Category Archives: fantasy

the prophecy

The Wolf Pack starts where four friends are given a task to find the magical, lost sword of the legendary king, Sauvern. Prior to that, Carthinal had found a prophecy. This is the tale of the finding of that prophecy. I originally incorporated it in the book, The Wolf Pack, but decided to eliminate it.

If you want to know more about what happens later you can buy The Wolf Pack by clicking on the title, here or on the book cover in the sidebar.

Find out how Carthinal and his friends searched for an artifact the whereabouts no one knew, and read about the dangers they faced in tracking it down.

Prophecy

The half-elf leafed through the book he was studying. He was due to take the tests to end his apprenticeship soon. Mabryl, his master and adopted father had sent off to the Mage Tower in Hambara asking for the young man to be considered for the tests at the next opportunity.

He was a tall, handsome young man, just over six feet with shoulder-length auburn hair, a closely trimmed beard and eyes of an intense blue. He was sitting in the study at the home of Mabryl in Bluehaven, which was situated on the south coast of the land of Grosmer. With him were Mabryl’s other two apprentices, 14 year old Tomac and 16 year old Emmienne. Tomac pushed a lock of his unruly dark hair out of his eyes.
‘I think that’s the Master coming in now, Carthinal. You’d better look as though you’ve been doing something instead of moping around waiting for that letter or you’ll be in trouble.’

As he said this, the door opened and Mabryl entered, shaking his cloak out as he did so. ‘It’s cold out there and it’s turning to snow if I’m not much mistaken. Unusual this far south.’ He turned to his three apprentices. ‘Have you finished the tasks I set you?’

He hung his cloak on a stand by the door. Carthinal stood and walked to the fire, putting a fresh log on to the flames. ‘Come and get warm, and, no I’ve not finished. I can’t seem to settle to anything until I hear about whether I can take the tests soon. I think Emmienne has finished though. I can’t say about Tomac.’

‘Nearly.’ Tomac, jumped from his chair and carried his workbook to his master. ‘I was a little stuck on the moon phases though. It’s complicated trying to work out both moons at the same time.’

‘Stick to it, youngster,’ Emmienne said from the window seat. She grinned across at the younger boy, the grin lighting up her otherwise rather plain face. ‘I had problems too, but it comes eventually.’

Tomac groaned and went back to his seat.

‘I’ve finished though, sir,’ she said. ‘I’ve learned the new spell you gave me and am sure I can make it work. When can I try it?’

Mabryl laughed. ‘Such enthusiasm. We’ll try it out tomorrow. In the meantime, I’ve made what I think may be a big discovery. Perhaps the most important one for many, many years. Look.’ He put an ancient book on the table.

The three apprentices gathered round.

‘I think it may be a spell book from before the Forbidding,. Mabryl ran a finger over the book’s leather spine.

Emmienne gasped. ‘That is old, and if it is, we’ll be able to find lost spells. You’ll be famous, sir.’

‘Calm down, Emm. It may not be the spell-book of a magister, or even an arch-mage.’ Carthinal smiled at the girl’s enthusiasm. ‘It may only have the spells we already know and not any of the lost ones.’

Seven hundred years previously there had been a war between conflicting mages. It had caused such devastation and hardship to everyone that the king forbade the use of magic on pain of death and all spell books were burned. Some mages, however, managed to rescue a few books and occasionally these came to light.

During the time of the Forbidding, as it came to be known, much knowledge had been lost and there some mages currently worked to re-discover the lost spells. If this book were to be of use, it would need to be taken to one of these mages.

As they discussed this, the door opened and Lillora, Mabryl’s housekeeper entered. ‘Sorry to disturb you, sir, but a bird arrived a few minutes ago. I thought you should know.’

‘I’ll come and look then,’ The mage stood and left the three apprentices to their own devices.

Carthinal picked up the book Mabryl had bought and began to leaf through it. He could understand little of what was written there. It was in an archaic script and language and as he was only an apprentice he had not the knowledge to understand more than a limited number of spells.
He frowned as he tried to read the words on the page, then, lifting the book from the table he carried it nearer to the light.

As he approached the window a loose page fell onto the floor. He stooped to pick it up and realised he could read it, and it was not a page from the book that had fallen out, but a note someone had inserted. He sat opposite Emmienne to read it.

‘What’s that?’ asked the brown-haired girl, straining to read it upside down.

‘I’m not sure.’ Carthinal, wrinkled his brow. ‘It fell out of this book but it doesn’t seem to be the same writing, nor is it in the same script. It’s a note of some kind.’ He paused to read it.

Mabryl came back holding a paper in his hand. ‘It’s good news, Carthinal. There’s space for you to take your tests in the next batch, which takes place just before Grillon’s Day. That’s in about five sixdays time. We’ll need to leave here in three sixdays to allow us time to settle in before your ordeal.’ He looked at the paper in Carthinal’s hand. What’s that you’ve got there?’

‘It fell out of the book you bought.’ Carthinal, handed it to his mentor. ‘It doesn’t seem to be by the author of the book. It’s in a more modern script that I can read. It doesn’t make much sense though.’

The Prophecy.

Mabryl read it, then read it again, this time aloud.

‘“When Kalhera descends from the mountains,
And orcs once more roam the land,
When impossible beasts occur
And the Never-Dying man is once more at hand,
Then the Sword that was lost must once more be found;
Only it can destroy the threat
And kill the immortal mortal to balance out his debt.”

‘That seems a strange thing to write and it doesn’t make a lot of sense. How can Kalhera descend from the mountains? She’s a god and the gods don’t come to Vimar.’

He turned the page in his hand and saw more writing on the back. ‘This says it’s a quotation from something the writer heard and wrote down. The author says he visited the Oracle on Holy Island and the priests were talking about what the Oracle had said earlier in the day when only the attendants were present.’

He replaced the paper in the book and turned to Carthinal. ‘We must take this book to a colleague of mine in the Mage Tower when we go. She’s working on finding the old spells and this may be of use to her. The loose note may be a prophecy if it came from the Oracle, but who knows when it was made? It could be it was centuries ago, or yesterday.’ He shrugged. ‘It could be referring to a time well in the future or even in the past. We should ignore it for now. Lillora says our lunch is almost ready, so I suggest we go to the table before she gets mad.’

The three apprentices forgot all about the book and the note as they enjoyed Mabryl’s housekeeper’s excellent cooking. After the meal they returned to their studies. Mabryl gave them all tasks to complete and went out again to visit the Duke of Bluehaven, who was an old friend of his, taking the book with him.

Duke Danu of Bluehaven had trained at the Mage Tower in his youth. He had some talent for magic, but with the death of his elder brother in an epidemic, he had to take over the duties and prepare to become the Duke. He had never taken the tests to end his apprenticeship, but he retained an interest in magic and still practiced it in a small way.


Today he was sitting in his study going over the accounts of the duchy when a knock came at the door.

‘Arch-mage Mabryl to see you, sir,’ said his butler.

‘Send him in.’ Danu rose from his seat and walked over to clasp Mabryl in a hug. ‘You’ve not been to visit in some while, my friend. Busy with your three apprentices, I suppose.’

‘Yes, they keep me busy. Carthinal’s ready to take his tests and become a full mage now.’

‘Is that so?’ Duke Danu raised an eyebrow. ‘Hardly seems any time at all when you took that scruffy little urchin off the streets. Everyone thought you were mad, you know. Taking a street child to be your apprentice and then adopting him. Well, it seems we were wrong. He’s turning out all right.’

‘Considering his background, yes. He still has his faults and I can’t say there weren’t times when I agreed with you I’d done the wrong thing. But I didn’t come here to talk about Carthinal. I’ve made a discovery and I want your opinion.’ He pulled the spell-book out of a bag at his side. ‘I’m going to take this to Yssa at the Mage Tower when I take Carthinal. She’ll be the best to decide how important it is.’

He handed the book to Danu.

The Duke whistled. ‘This is important, Mabryl. I can’t read it, but it certainly looks like a spell-book to me. It’s old and could easily date to before the Forbidding.’ He picked up the note still between its pages. ‘What’s this?’

‘A little note someone left in the book. Carthinal found it. It doesn’t seem to belong to the book and I thought it could be a hoax. Someone putting a seeming prophecy in an important old book.’

‘Maybe, but I don’t think so. Some research I’ve been doing suggests Grosmer is about to face some danger. This may be a prophecy about that. I would suggest you take it to Rollo in Hambara when you go. His library is much more extensive than mine and he can find out more.’

‘I don’t know Duke Rollo,’ Mabryl replied, frowning. ‘He may not believe me. I’ve heard he’s a suspicious man. I think this note maybe a hoax even if you don’t. I’ll need to prove I’ve come from you.’

‘I’ll write you a letter to give him.’ Danu walked to his desk. ‘I’ll also give you this.’ He picked up a small statuette of a trotting horse about three inches long and two high that sat on the desk. ‘It’s one of a pair we found in our adventuring days. He has the other. He’ll know I’ve sent you when he sees that, especially if you ask him about the other one. Now, sit down and I’ll get some wine for us to drink while we talk about other things.’

The old friends passed the afternoon remembering past times and gossiping about the goings on in the city of Bluehaven as the afternoon passed into evening and the Duke’s work lay unfinished on the desk.

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review 0f airwoman by zara quentin

Some time ago I bought a boxed set called Magik. It contains books by several authors.
Although I’ve only recently begun to read the boxed set, I have read

Airwoman by Zara Quentin.


Here’s my review. (The picture is a combination of a couple of pictures from Pixabay and has no real relevance to the book. I just thought it would be nice to have a picture!)

Overview.

This is the story of Jade, a young woman who wants to become a Traveller and visit the many other worlds in the Dragonverse.

I found it gripping and wanted to keep on reading and turning the pages to find out what happens next and how Jade manages to escape the many dangers she faces , and the betrayals that beset her.

Story

Jade is the heir to her father’s company, one of the biggest on Teraqa. Her ambition, however, is far from living on the planet of her birth and running the company. She wants to travel the Dragonverse as a Traveller.

These men and women form an elite force whose job it is to keep all the worlds safe from the monsters that roam between the worlds. Jade’s parents have kept her from doing her duty and serving the mandatory time in the Force. Due to the influence of her father and his brother, they managed to avoid this.

Jade is not happy with this situation, but when her father dies under suspicious circumstances, and her friend, Axel, disappears, suspicion falls on him. This causes Jade some confusion, but also an opportunity to join the force and leave Teraqa on duty.

But it does not work out as happily as she imagined.

The story kept me guessing until the end.

Characters

The characters of this story belong to a race of winged and tailed humanoids. I found this idea novel and enjoyed flying around with them.

Jade is a well-rounded character. She has her flaws and doubts and makes mistakes that cause great problems for herself and others, which makes her seem real. I liked her a lot.

The other characters were all distinct, and with their own voices, including the characters from another world.

Writing

Zara Quentin’s writing is excellent. She kept the pace of the story moving, but there were just enough pauses in the action so as not to leave the reader breathless.

Her descriptions of the surroundings were clear, and I could visualise them as if I had been there myself.

I went through a gamut of emotions with Jade, Such was Ms Quentin’s powers of describing those emotions they seem real.

There were minimal typos and no grammatical errors.

Conclusion

An excellent read for anyone who enjoys both scifi and fantasy. People who enjoy a mystery would enjoy it, too if they can get past the fantasy elements. I am now looking forward to buying and reading the next in this series.

I have no hesitation in giving it FIVE STARS *

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an excerpt from Jovinda and Noli a new release

Have you ever wondered what happened before a story begins? I am releasing a number of novellas that tell the story before the story. The first one is the very beginning and tells how the parents of Carthinal, in The Wolves of Vimar Series met and fell in love.

This novella is now released and can be bought from Amazon. It is available in ebook format and paperback (including pocket book and large print).

Click the book cover to go to Amazon where you are.

Here’s the blurb.

At sixteen years of age, Jovinda is to be presented to the Royal Family. She fantasizes about catching the eye of Prince Gerim and becoming Queen, but her fantasies evaporate when she meets a young elf called Noli.

The pair fall in love, but parental opposition, mainly because of their different lifespans, leads them to meet in secret, despite warnings of severe repercussions from Jovinda’s family.

But can the young lovers overcome the opposition of their parents?

And to whet your appetite, here is an excerpt from the book.

Jovinda is attending her first ever ball and banquet at the royal palace in Aspirilla. She is to be presented to the King and his family, and she is very excited about meeting the Crown Prince, who is almost the same age as her. She has dreams of romance.

The Young Lovers

Jovinda and her parents stood at the top of the stairs leading down to the reception room in the Palace. Jovinda scanned the room looking for Prince Gerim. The prince was not quite sixteen, but would be at such an important banquet as the heir to the throne. She frowned slightly as she noticed a young elf watching her as she descended the stairs.

Ellire had decided the best style for her dress for the banquet would be, not like the elaborate dresses they saw hanging in Madame Frimb’s workroom, but a simple style.

Jovinda saw the green velvet fabric and fell in love with the colour. Ellire agreed it would look good on her, and then went to discuss a style with Madame Frimb. The dress she now wore had a high neckline with small pearl buttons sewn around it. The buttons continued down the centre of the otherwise plain bodice with sleeves that stopped at her elbow. They also had pearl buttons around the cuffs. The skirt flared from her waist giving room for her feet to move when dancing, and more pearl buttons graced the hem. She wore small pearl drops in her ears and a white orchid in her hair.

The family walked down the stairs as a butler announced them. Jovinda stared around. The stairs descended from the balcony where they had entered, and flared out towards the bottom. A red carpet ran down the centre. Large floor to ceiling windows to her right opened onto the Palace gardens, and doors carved with vines and fruits stood open on the opposite side. Torches in sconces lit the room, and glinted on the gold-leaf that covered the cornice. More gold covered a few chairs scattered around for those unable to stand for long, and at the opposite end of the room was a dais with two thrones, again, covered in gold leaf.

A waiter brought a tray of drinks. Jovinda took a glass of Perimo, a sparkling wine from the islands, as she chatted with many of her parents’ friends and acquaintances, feeling very grown up.

Suddenly, a horn sounded. Everyone stopped talking and looked towards the stairs. The Royal Family entered and made their way through the crowd to the dais. As they passed, people bowed their heads or curtseyed. Once the King and Queen settled onto their thrones, the butler announced the first of the young people to be presented.
As it was her first social occasion, Jovinda was one of those young people.

When the butler called her name, she looked at her father who mouthed “Go on, Jo”.

Her mother gave her a little push to start her on her way.

She took a deep breath to try to calm her racing heart, and ascended the dais where she curtseyed to the King and Queen.

The King smiled and his eyes twinkled. “We are delighted to meet you, Jovinda. Enjoy the occasion. There’s nothing quite like your first ball.”
Then she moved on. Prince Gerim smiled at her and shook her hand.

“Pleased to meet you, Miss Jovinda.”

Jovinda curtseyed. He’s quite good-looking. I wonder if I can attract his attention? He may even ask me to dance. I wonder what kind of girls he likes?

The call came for everyone to go into the banqueting hall and be seated. Jovinda was surprised to be seated well away from her parents. She found herself sitting between a young man she knew, whose father was the head of the leatherworkers’ guild, and a handsome young elf—the very same elf she had seen watching her as she descended the stairs. She drew her eyebrows together.

The elf turned to her and asked her name.

“Jovinda. What’s yours?”

He laughed. “I doubt you’d be able to pronounce it.” His smile lit up his deep blue eyes.

“Try me.”

“Well, it’s Nolimissalloran, but you can call me Noli. All my friends do.”
Jovinda looked at the elf. He’s very handsome.

His extraordinary eyes fascinated her. They were slanting, like those of all elves, but it was their colour that attracted her attention. They were a deep blue. Much deeper than any eyes she had ever seen before. She no longer felt an interest in capturing the attention of Prince Gerim.

After the banquet, the king announced that the ball would commence in thirty minutes in the ballroom. Everyone left the tables and stood around in groups talking.

As they passed through the double doors, Jovinda’s mouth fell open. She would have stopped in her tracks if Noli had not been urging her forward.

When the music began, people started to move toward it. Noli held out his arm to Jovinda, beating the young man who had sat on her other side at the banquet. She took it, blushing, and the pair strolled into the ballroom.

The chandeliers hanging from the ceiling cast dancing lights around the room as the candles flickered in the currents of air. Everywhere she looked she saw gold leaf. On the carving on the dais, on the thrones for the king and queen, on the urns in niches on the walls.

A delicate blue paint covered the walls,on which were painted scenes of dancing couples, The ceiling was painted a deeper blue with stars covering it.

The quartet on the raised dais was playing a jolly tune and people were beginning to drift onto the dance floor.

“May I have this first dance?” Noli bowed to Jovinda. She nodded her assent.

He swept her into his arms and whirled her around the floor. Noli was an excellent dancer and she found herself dancing better than she had ever done before. He was so easy to follow.

After the dance Noli escorted her to a seat at a small table occupied by her parents. They were sitting with Salor and her parents. He bowed and drifted off towards a group of elves.

Jovinda watched him go. He bowed to one of the young female elves and escorted her onto the dance floor.

“Jo.” It was her mother speaking. “Jo, Krombo is asking you to dance. What’s wrong with you?”

“Oh! Sorry, Krombo.” She rose and they joined the dancing couples.

A constant stream of young men came to dance with Jovinda. Some danced well, but some were clumsy. None danced as well as Noli. She kept looking around to see with whom the young elf was dancing.

Does he like her better than he likes me?

This thought ran through her head over and over again whenever Noli danced with another young woman. All thoughts of the Prince fled as she watched the handsome elf.

He asked her to dance again before leaving her once more to dance with others. But he danced with her more than anyone else, and danced the last dance with her.

All too soon the evening ended and Jovinda and her parents took a carriage back to The Swan in Flight. They were leaving the next morning for the ferry back to Bluehaven. Jovinda found herself hoping she would see Noli again. After all, if he stayed with the delegation, then he would be based in Bluehaven. She smiled.

“What are you grinning at?” her father asked her.

“Oh, nothing. Only that I had a really good time this evening.”

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The promises of dragons a short story

I wrote this story in response to a picture prompt, but I’ve lost the picture, and can’t remember who posted it.

The picture showed a wizard standing on a rock in the mountains, and a dragon breathing fire towards him. this is the story I wrote.

I have considered the possibility of expanding it into a novel or novella. I like the title, and think it’s too good to waste! What do you think of the idea? Let me know in the comments box, please.

The Promises of Dragons

It suddenly appeared one day and took a cow from the field.

A week later, dark wings blotted out the summer sun. The farmer looked up and saw an enormous shape gliding overhead. A dragon! He watched, cowering behind a large tree.

The dragon swooped down and carried off another cow.

As soon as the creature disappeared towards the distant mountains he ran as fast as he could to his home.

“What? You say a dragon is stealing our cows?” His wife was incredulous. “They‘re supposed to be extinct, aren’t they?”

“It was a dragon. A huge beast with horns on its head, leathery wings and reddish-brown scales. It was a dragon for sure.”

“Then you must go and tell the village council. They must do something about it. We can’t have dragons taking all our cows,” his wife exclaimed.

“I’m not sure they’ll believe me. Anyway, what can they do?”

“Nevertheless you must go. Leave straight after we’ve eaten. I can see to things here until you get back.”

The farmer strode resolutely into the village that afternoon and made for the home of the leader of the council. When he heard the farmer’s tale, he called an emergency council meeting.

Once all the council members were assembled he turned to the farmer.
“Now tell the council what you told me.”

The farmer bowed to the council. “A dragon has been stealing my cows. I’ve lost three over the last three weeks. At first, I thought is was rustlers, although I did wonder why they were taking them one at a time.”

“It could have been a wolf pack, or some other predator.” The leader of the council looked around his colleagues and grinned.

“No. I thought that at first.” The farmer shook his head “But in that case there should have been blood and bones at the very least. The cows just vanished without a trace.”

“Did you search for remains?” one councillor asked.

The farmer nodded. “ I looked everywhere. There was nothing. Then I decided to wait near the field where I keep the cows. It was then I saw the dragon.”

“You are certain you saw a dragon? Most experts say they’re extinct,” the leader of the council said.

“It was a dragon. I can’t be mistaken about that!”

Another councillor asked, “It was in the sky, against the sun. Could it have been a cloud?”

“And clouds swoop down and steal cattle?”

The members of the council asked more questions but eventually they were convinced–at least enough of them to agree to send a troop of volunteer guardsmen to investigate, and to kill the beast, if it turned out it were truly a dragon.

Two days later the volunteers set off to track down the mythical beast.
They crossed the plain towards the mountains in the direction the farmer told the council the dragon had gone. It took a full day to get to the base of the mountains and they made camp when they arrived. The men were in good spirits. Searching for an extinct creature was a bit of a lark. They were mostly young men who volunteered and not one of them believed the story the farmer had told.

“An old man, going senile and seeing things,” one said.

“Or perhaps his eyes are going. It must have been a cloud. I’ve seen clouds in the shape of all sorts of things,” another said.

“What about the cows that vanished?” asked a third.

“Rustlers, as the old man suggested himself,” the first volunteer told him.

They all laughed at the foolishness of old men.

The next few days they spent climbing the mountains. They trudged ever higher, but the path stretched before them in a never-ending ribbon. The peaks soared high above them, wreathed in snow and clouds. Each footfall seemed to make little difference to their progress. Still the mountains grew above them. and as they got higher and higher some of them began to wonder why they were here on this futile search.

“Where are we supposed to look?” said a young red-headed man, little more than a boy, really.

The others shook their heads, then one of them, older than the others, said, “I’ve heard dragons live in caves”.

“Hey, I used to play in these mountains when I was a kid,“ another said. “We lived high up and we played in some caves. Perhaps we should look there.”

He led the troop in the direction of the caves he remembered.

After another day of weary climbing, their breath coming fast, and hearts beating ever more quickly, they saw dark openings in a cliff ahead. They stopped and had a brief discussion.

None of them believed in the dragon, but the oldest man said, “We ought to be careful, ‘just in case’. There might be bears in the caves.”

Later that afternoon, just as they were about to set off up the mountainside to the caves they heard a strange noise as though a large flock of bats were flying overhead, or a tanner was shaking out a piece of leather. A flapping sound like wings, but not feathery wings like a bird. More like what they thought of as …dragon wings. The sunlight disappeared momentarily and as they looked up, they saw what could only be a dragon, flying towards the largest of the cave openings.

“By all that’s holy,” breathed the leader of the group. “The old man was right. It is a dragon. Where has it come from? It can’t possibly exist. They were extinct hundreds of years ago, yet here it is.”

“Evidently the scientists were wrong. They’re not extinct. Some must have survived in the depths of the mountains where no one goes,” the oldest man said, standing beside the leader and shielding his eyes as he watched the beast enter the cave.

“We need to wait until it leaves.” The leader frowned as he peered toward the cave where the dragon had gone.

A full day passed before the creature left again. They took their opportunity.

“Aren’t dragons supposed to have hoards of gold and other stuff?” one man asked, rubbing his hands together. “If we find its treasure, we’ll all be rich men. We’ll be able to court any girl we want, and buy farms, but have someone else to work them. We’ll never need to toil in the fields or factories again.”

They all nodded and laughed at the idea of all those riches, but when the dragon left the next morning, the reality hit them. They would need to go into the cave to get the treasure. The little group of young men crept towards the cave mouth, keeping an eye on the sky above, and ears open for the sound of leathery wings.

The stench of dragon hit them as they neared the cave. It was a sickly, sweet smell with hints of sourness in it. They held their noses. Around the mouth of the cave lay bones from large animals. Many were obviously deer, but there were sheep and cow bones there too.
As they neared the lair the leader asked for a volunteer to go into the cave to look. These otherwise brave young men looked at each other, eyes wide and hearts pounding. What happened if the dragon returned while they were in the cave?

Then one man stepped forward. He entered slowly and with some trepidation and lit his torch, for it was dark inside. The smell was even worse here and at first he thought he might be sick, but he wrapped a rag around his nose and mouth. That made it a bit more bearable. A little way into the cave he stumbled over a smooth, rounded object. He lifted his torch and saw—an egg! Not just one egg, but ten. He sprinted out of the cave and reported what he had seen.

They went in and smashed the eggs. Even though they searched right to the back of the cave, no treasure could be found. The leader said they should take some of the egg shards to prove there was a real dragon in the mountains.

After smashing the eggs and destroying the threat of ten more dragons rampaging through the land they began the decent to the plain.

~~ When Gulineran returned to her cave and found her smashed eggs the roar of her anguish made the mountains themselves tremble. She determined to take revenge. First she looked for the culprits. She saw them like ants, trekking down the mountainside. Flying over them, she burned every last one to a crisp with her flaming breath. Her anger and sorrow still not appeased, she swept down and breathed flame onto the hapless village. The cottages burned like tinder. Many lost their lives. Those who survived crowded into the stone-built village hall. ~~

The leader of the council stood before the surviving villagers. His eyes raked the gathered people, and burned with tears. So many dead. And all those young men who did not return. The dragon must have incinerated them, too. He held his hand up for silence.

“We must destroy this pest,” he told them, over the sobbing of the people.

“Who is going to tackle a creature who can do such things?” a voice called from the back.

“And most of our brave young men are dead. There’s no one here who can fight, even if we weren’t facing a dragon,” someone else called.

A heated debate ensued, but in the end they decided to send for help to the nearby wizards, thinking perhaps magic would be able to destroy this dragon.

The message took a week to get to the wizards’ college, but eventually a message came back. The leader of the council called all the surviving villagers into the council chambers where he read the reply.

“We are very sorry, and we sympathise with your problem, but we cannot spare anyone at the moment. We are far too busy.”

There was pandemonium in the hall, but then, the door opened and a wizard entered. The crowd immediately became silent.

The wizard stood before them and began to speak. “I do not agree with my colleagues, I cannot stand by and watch a dragon decimate your village. Believe me, it won’t be the last visit you have from her.” His eyes blazed as he spoke. “I’ve made a study of dragons. You could say they’re my speciality. I have special knowledge not many others have. I am prepared to help you with your problem.”

He was a young man by the name of Oni. Oni talked to the council, and promised to do something about the dragon. The council accepted his offer and promised him great rewards if he could manage to get rid of the great beast that was terrorising them.

Oni walked out of the village and into the mountains. He followed the path the young men had taken until he stood near the cave, Then he called. Within seconds the dragon rushed out ready for battle. She breathed flame. The flames washed over Oni. Gulineran expected to see a dead wizard when her fire died away, but Oni was left standing and very much alive. She looked into his eyes.

“Ah.” Oni sighed. “I’ve not seen such beauty in two hundred years.”

“How can a human talk of hundreds of years?” Gulineran asked. “Your lives aren’t that long.”

“No, but dragons live centuries. You’re the first female dragon I’ve seen in more than three.”

His skin began to change, turning a rich, deep red and he grew and rippled, smooth skin turned into scales and horns sprouted from his head. His shoulder blades burst from his skin and he folded a pair of wings along his back. A handsome male red dragon stood before her. “Will you accept me as your mate?” Oni asked.

When Gulineran accepted Oni’s offer he changed back to human form and returned to the village. There he told the villagers of his encounter with the dragon.

“I used magic to charm her and I have managed to get her to agree not to attack the village nor take any cattle. She will live on the wild creatures of the mountains.”

The council offered him gold, but he refused saying, “I have everything I need now. Indeed, everything I ever wanted.”

When he returned to Gulineranm he told her of his promise to the villagers.

“Oh, Oni.” Gulineran answered, smiling. “Don’t they know not to trust the promises of dragons?”

review of cotula by debbie manber kuyper

Overview.

This book continues the saga of P.A.W.S. begun in the book of that name.
Rifka, a young Jewish girl has disappeared from her home in Safed, in Israel. She remembers nothing of her life before except what the man she is with has told her. He says she is his wife, although little more than a child.
The story is about how Rifka is saved from the man, who is the werewolf, Frederick, with the help of the mysterious stomes known as Cotula.
It ranges from Israel to London, and ends up in St Louis and New York via the mysterious shadow land of Umbrae.

Blurb

Follow the Cotula. The stone will show you the way.

Rifka is lost, far away from home, kidnapped by an insidious werewolf.
Far off in Manus Wu, a plan is set in place. An Old One sends colutae out into the world. These stones when brought together have the power to release Rifka. Yet does she truly want to go home?
Meet an empathic goat, a family of otters, a girl who loves to draw fairies, and a dragon in this new installment of the P.A.W.S. Saga.

Story

The story moves with a good pace. We are carried along with the characters through their various adventures in trying to defeat the werewolf, Frederick.

I enjoyed the tale as it continued with the people we had met in the earlier books and more are introduced, but the author manages to keep them clear in our minds.

Characters

The large number of characters is difficult for an author to manage. However, they all seem to be realistic, and have human failings and strengths. They have doubts and query themselves, and some have to fight against their own nature, as in the werewolves who do not want to feast on human flesh.

Writing

On the whole, the writing is good, but, like the other books in this series, some errors have slipped through the editing process. Ms Kuyper gives acknowledgement to her editor, but I think said editor has done a less than perfect job. I noted well over 100 errors and word repetitions in the book.

Conclusion

This is more of a YA book, I would say, although it can be enjoyed by adults, too, I am an adult, and I enjoyed it!
The drawback with offering it to a youngster would be the errors in the book.
I have given it 4*. It would have got 5 if there were fewer typos etc.

Please leave your comments in the comments box below. I would love to hear from you, especially if you have read any of Debbie Manber Kuyper’s books.

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What to do in Self-isolation

These are difficult times. We are all facing unprecedented restrictions to our lives. We are told to stay at home and keep our distance if we do go out.

Some people find this difficult. Some more so than others. If you are used to an active social life, and work with many people, you will undoubtedly find all this hard to do.

For those of us who are used to working from home, like writers, it’s not so difficult to keep on working. We are used to working in isolation, but for people who work in restaurants, cafes, and the like it must be very hard. Some people can work from home, but many cannot. What to do to fill the time?

Some people have decided, stupidly, that this is a holiday. The weather is good and they’ve nothing else to do, so they go off to the seaside, or National Parks. We’ve all seen the pictures of the crowds in these places. What are they doing but risking spreading the disease? It can spread fast enough on its own without stupidity helping it.

This sort of behaviour will force the government to create a lockdown when people are not allowed to go out. Do we really want that?

So what can you do in this self-isolation? Well, read a book. (Of course I would say that, wouldn’t I?) Or even several.

If you have been following the serialisation of Carthinal’s story, you might like to read this to find out what became of him in later life.

As it happens, from today (23rd March) until Friday 27th March, the ebook version of my fantasy novel, The Wolf Pack, will be FREE on Amazon. Why not pick up a copy while you can?

All Carthinal wants is admission to the ranks of the mages. Traveling from Bluehaven to Hambara, where his rite of passage is to take place, he doesn’t expect to end up on a quest to find the long-lost sword of the legendary King Sauvern.

With strangers he meets on his journey, Carthinal sets out on the seemingly impossible quest. Followed by Randa, the snooty aristocratic daughter of the Duke of Hambara, and the young runaway thief Thad, Carthinal and his companions face tragedy and danger.

Watched by the gods and an implacable foe, they will have to accept help from the least likely sources and face their innermost fears. As the fate of their world hangs in the balance, they realize that this is more than an adventure. This quest will change them all.

What have you got to lose? After all, it’s absolutely FREE, and you’ve now got time to read.

What are your opinions on this self-isolation? Will it work, or are there just too many people who are too stupid to understand what it’s all about?

Will this behaviour cause the government to impose even more draconian laws?

Let me know via the comments box.

review of argentum by Debbie Manber Kupfer

Argentum (The P.A.W.S.Saga Book 2) by [Kupfer, Debbie Manber]


**** stars

Overview

This is the second book in Debbi Manber Kuyper’s P.A.W.S. Saga, and it begins where book 1 finished. It is a tale of shapeshifters, werewolves and animagi.
P.A.W.S. is the place where these beings live. There are many such places all over the world.
Werewolves are humans that have been infected with lycanthropy, and are forced to become wolves at the full moon. Animagi can change their shape at will into an animal, while shapshifters require a charm passed down through families, and originally made by Merlin himself.
In this second book, we take up the story where the eveil werewolf, Alistair, has been destroyed.
Or has he?

Blurb


Argentum is the thread that binds all magic …
The silver of Miri’s cat charm passed on through the generations.
The silver of Jessamyn’s scepter, the source of her illusions.
The silver of Quentin’s scrying bowl, forged by Merlin.
All intertwine in Argentum.

With Alistair gone a measure of peace returns to P.A.W.S., but Miri is tormented by nightmares. The silver charm that had recently hung around Alistair’s neck is now in Miri’s possession and seems to have taken on a life of its own. And then it mysteriously disappears.
Jessamyn seeks help from Quentin, who claims to have repented his past association with Alistair, but can he be trusted?
And what of Jenna? The young girl rescued from Alistair’s pack house holds a terrible secret. One that could determine the future of P.A.W.S.

Story


I found the story to be as immersing as the first book. Miri’s growing romance with the shapeshifter, Danny, whose alterego is a large maine coon cat, plays a big part in the story.
There is also a mystery about how her friend Josh’s mother has a photograph that looks like one she has of her grandmother when she was young.
The story, I found captivating, and wanted to know more about the whereabouts of Miri’s second charm that had belonged to her grandfather, and who took it. Was the dead Alistair influencing events? And how could this be?

Characterisation.


The characters in the book are realistic. They all have their good and bad points, just like real people. Perhaps they did not develop as much as they could have, but then there are 5 books to get through. Perhaps they will be changed by the end of the 5th book.

Writing.


This is the weakest part of the book. While the style is easy to read, I found a number of grammar mistakes that should really have been discovered and corrected in the editing stage.

Conclusion


All in all, in spite of the grammar errors, the story is good, and so I decided to only remove 1 star from my review.

A catch up on my #writing and an #offer.

I’ve been working on both the next book of The Wolves of Vimar series. It’s book 4, and will be called Immortal’s Death.

It will follow on after the friends, who call themselves Wolf, have discovered disquieting things about the Master of Erian and his designs on the land of Grosmer.

Duke Larrin of Sendolina has been missing, and all contact with Sendolina lost. The friends, who call themselves Wolf, send the little dragonet, Muldee, to find out what has happened.

When he returns with the news that Duke Larrin has been imprisoned in his own castle, five of them set off to rescue him.

Meanwhile, there have been riots in Hambara, and Thadora is dispached to find out what is happening. She finds the populace starving because there are no jobs, the richer people, who, by and large provide the jobs, having left in the riots.

I am about half-way through at the moment, and hope to get it finished in the next few months, Then I need to submit it to Next Chapter. It will be some time before it’s released.

In the meantime, I’ve submitted a prequel to the publisher, and am waiting for the next step. It’s the story of the parents of Carthinal, the protagonist in The Wolves of Vimar. I am looking forward to that being released, but as yet have no idea when that will be. I’ve also finished the story of Carthinal’s early life. Just a bit more editing, then I’ll submit that to Next Chapter.

Wolf Moon, Book 3, will be FREE in ebook format from tomorrow, 8th February until Wednesday 12th February. Get your copy soon or you’ll miss the opportunity. If you’ve not read the first two books, you can buy them at the same time by clicking on the covers in the sidebar.

Thank you for reading. Please add a comment in the comments box.

An update on my writing, and a special offer.

The Wolves of Vimar is a fantasy series. Book 1, The Wolf Pack, finds Carthinal setting off to take the tests to end his apprenticeship and make him a full mage.

Once in Hambara, where the tests are to take place, he, and some people he met on his journey are given the task of finding a lost artefact. It has been prophesied that it will be needed in the near future.

The book tells of their adventures in finding the artefact and returning with it.

Book 2, The Never-Dying Man, finds the friends settled into normal life in Hambara. That is until someone who helped them in the quest for the Sword turns up asking for their help. His child has been kidnapped.

Because they owe him a life debt, they agree to help find her. After rescuing her they are left with more questions. Who wants her, and why?

They stray into Erian, the next country and get recruited into the Erian Army where half the group are arrested and taken to Frelli, the capital.

Here they find that war against Grosmer is being prepared. Why, they do not know as there has been peace for generations. What they do find out is more dangerous, and surprising than they could have imagined.

The half of Wolf, who are prisoners must escape and take the news back to the authorities in Grosmer.

Book 3, Wolf Moon, follows the other half of Wolf, who managed to escape the arrest. They are chased into a cave system in the mountains where they find a people living entirely in the mountain.

These people want to have nothing to do with the outside world. In fact, they don’t want anyone to know they exist. To keep their secret, they refuse to show the friends the way out.

Eventually, though, they are persuaded to help and allow Wolf to leave. Unfortunately, though, the group of friends have to pass many dangers to get out, and also, once out, they need to dodge the Erian army which is on the lookout for them.

As they make their way past many dangers, they discover more secrets. Can they manage to get back to their homes and pass their discoveries on to the authorities in Grosmer?

I am currently writing Book 4, which is to be called Immortal’s Death. It is a slow process as I have been distracted by other writing projects, including Jealousy of a Viking, which is the sequel to Vengeance of a Slave, my very first historical novel, and I loved writing it. What I found out was fascinating. But you’ll have to wait for Jealousy, although Vengeance came out at Christmas.

But from today, The Never-Dying Man is available for a mere $0.99, £0.99. This offer is only available until 19th, so don’t waste time. Click here to get your copy, or click on the book’s image in the side-bar.

If you have read any of my books, please consider writing a review. Reviews are important to both writers and readers. Readers can see if they think a book is for them before they spend money on it, and writers rely on reviews to get their books noticed. With the millions of books on sale, this is a difficult process.

So please, Help a Writer and write a review.