Category Archives: fantasy

Extract from my latest work in progress.

I don’t seem to be getting on very well with Book 4 of The Wolves of Vimar. Somehow, life keeps getting in the way. Anyway, it’s currently undergoing critiques from a couple of online critique groups I’m in. As it’s chapter by chapter, and I need to do crits for others before I can post, it’s a long process. Still, we’ll get there. Eventually!

I’m still waiting to hear about my poetry book. It’s been nearly 5 months now, but I hope it won’t be much longer. I’d self-publish it, but as it has pictures, and the formatting of poetry is not straightforward, I’m reluctant to go down that road.

For your delectation, today I’m going to post a bit from Immortal’s Death, Book 4 of the Wolves of Vimar series. Please, remember, though, that this is just the first draft, so might not be perfect. In fact, it’s unlikely to be perfect!

Here Goes.

This is from near the beginning of the book. Thadora was brought up as a thief in the Warren at Hambara, but she was recognised as a daughter to the Duke of Hambara when he saw her remarkable resemblance to his grandmother. He adopted her, thus legitimising her.

Here, Thadora is attending the wedding of her sister, Randa, the duke’s elder daughter, to Prince Almoro. It’s rather long, so my apologies.

Thadora

Outside the great banqueting hall in the palace, Thadora found herself standing next to Sandron, brother to Duke Larrin of Sendolina.

“Have you seen Larrin?” he asked.

She shook her head. “He must be here somewhere. There are so many people it’s easy to miss someone.”

Sandron frowned. “I didn’t see him in the temple, either, but you’re right, he’ll be here somewhere. Allow me to escort you into the banqueting hall, Lady Thadora.” He bowed.

Thadora giggled. “Now you’re Sandron, the courtier. Different from when we first met.”

They had met when a group of bandits, led by Sandron, captured Wolf after they found Sauvern’s Sword. The youngest son of the late Duke of Sendolina amused himself by leading these bandits, but Randa recognised him and he quickly released her and her friends when she promised not to tell his father how he had been amusing himself.

 Youngest sons often found they had little to do, and so long ago they formed a band of mercenaries and called themselves The Red Hawks. 

On Randa’s suggestion, Sandron recruited enough young men to form a new group, also calling themselves The Red Hawks in memory of the band from the past.

Thadora took Sandron’s proffered arm and the pair entered the banqueting hall. 

As they crossed the threshold, Thadora’s shoe caught in the hem of her dress and she staggered, hopping, as she tried to release her shoe without tearing it. “Zol’s balls, I’ve been promising myself I wouldn’t do that.” 

Sandron laughed as he managed to steady her. “Being the Duke of Hambara’s second daughter hasn’t improved your language any, has it? Nor your grace in a dress.”

Thadora pressed her lips together to prevent the swear word that rose to them, this time at Sandron. Instead she simply elbowed him in the ribs.

He groaned and rubbed the sore spot. “Sorry, Lady Thadora.”

Lady Thadora stared daggers at him. “Stop mocking me, Lord Sandron, or it’ll be the worse for you. I won’t always be in a dress.”

He laughed and Thadora joined in.

As the sister of the bride, Thadora was seated at the table next to King Perdillon unable to find words to say to her royal neighbour. 

I must mind my manners. I must mind my manners, she told herself, over and over again.

When the king spoke she thought he sounded so ordinary that she forgot about his royalty. He asked about her adventures and the formation of Wolf, and seemed genuinely interested in her answers.

“So this sword, the one that belonged to King Sauvern, is magical and will be needed soon?”

“Yes. Carthinal found a prophecy. But you know about that. He thinks this Branlow he met in Frelli is the Never-Dying Man, and can only be stopped by using the Sword.”

She looked around the room. The crowd made a continual buzz. How was Fero coping? He never liked crowds, and with Randa marrying someone else, it would be even more difficult.

As her eyes sought her friend, she noticed a couple of spare seats. 

She turned to Perdillon. “Who hasn’t come to the wedding? There are two empty seats next to the Duchess of Eribore.”

The king looked to where she indicated and raised his eyebrows. “I think that’s where my wife put Duke Larrin of Sendolina. I wonder why he’s not here?” He leaned across to Almoro.

“Duke Larrin isn’t here, Almoro. Do we know why?”

Almoro shook his head. “He answered the invitation saying he’d be here. It’s not like him to go against protocol.”

Thadora leaned forward. “Sandron was looking for him, too. He thought his brother should be here.”

“No doubt it’ll sort itself out. There must have been some emergency we’ve not heard about.”

The banquet continued through four more courses, then a messenger came and whispered something in Perdillon’s ear.

The king blanched, stood and left, apologising. 

His wife, Queen Helloria looked up. “What is it, Perdillon?” 

The king told her it was probably nothing, but he had to go and see someone. 

He returned shortly and walked over to where Duke Firbolt of Meridor sat next to his wife. The duke looked unwell. His health had not been the same since the mysterious illness that had killed King Gerim, and many of the dukes. The king bent and whispered something in his ear. The duke immediately stood, said something to his wife, and both hurried out of the room.

Without speaking to the master of ceremonies, who announced the speeches, Perdillon lifted the man’s gavel and banged on the table.

“May I have your attention, ladies and gentlemen.” 

Silence fell as King Perdillon began to speak.

“I apologise to Almoro and Randa for this interruption to their wedding festivities, but there has been a serious event. It seems that the army of Erian has entered our territory. They have taken Meridor.”

A hubbub of voices broke out. Meridor had never been taken in battle until now. People called out asking questions, but the king banged the gavel once more.

“From what I have been told, Meridor capitulated without a fight.” 

Gasps were heard around the gathered crowd. 

Perdillon continued. “We have no idea why the Duke Firbolt’s steward surrendered without a fight. The duke has gone to find out. We also noticed the absence of Duke Larrin of Sendolina. We hope there isn’t a similar problem in that duchy.

“Again, I apologise to Almoro and Randa, but, in view of the situation, I’m calling an immediate meeting in the council room. Would the dukes please attend me there? The rest of you please continue with your meal.” 

The king strode out of the banqueting hall, followed by the dukes. 

Everyone else remained sitting in silence. The joyful occasion had turned sour, and few people wanted to eat anything more. 

Seeing this, Almoro stood. “This has spoiled a happy celebration. I’m sorry. I think we should abandon the meal. You can either leave for your accommodation, or we’ll meet in the ballroom. Thank you all for attending, and for the generous gifts you have given to my wife and me.”

~*~

Thadora spotted Carthinal across the room. His deep blue robe looked startling with his shoulder-length auburn hair, and almost matched his indigo eyes. He had trimmed his beard to a short stubble.

No doubt about it, he’s a handsome man.

Sitting next to him at a low table was his wife, the elf, Yssalithisandra. She had plaited her golden hair and wound it around her head. Her robe was a rich burgundy. She smiled at their daughter, Starralishinara, who played with a stuffed dragon.

Starr, as she was known, had her father’s auburn hair, and her mother’s blue eyes, paler than her father’s.

Thadora made her way over to them, accompanied by Randa and Prince Almoro. The three drew up chairs and sat. 

Sandron approached with the little dragonet, Muldee, sitting on his shoulder. Thadora exclaimed with delight at seeing this small relative of dragons. His iridescent scales gleamed in the light coming through the large windows on the south side of the huge room. They changed colour as he moved.

“You’re here, Muldee.” She tried to put her arms around the creature, but he flew into the air moments before her assault. “I thought you’d gone back to the lake to join your brothers and sisters.”

“I did, for a while, but after the excitement of living with Sandron, it was boring. When I came back, and Sandron told me Randa was getting married, I had to come. I wouldn’t miss the wedding of one of my friends.” He studied Randa. “You look lovely, Randa. But Sandron told me to stay away from the actual wedding. What did he think I’d do?”

Sandron tossed his head back and laughed. “I had no idea what you might do. That’s why I said you weren’t to come to the ceremony.”

Thadora looked around. The ballroom had been decorated in blue and white in a similar way to the great hall. Tables surrounded an open space in the centre of the room. 

I don’t suppose the dancing will take place now. That’s good. I would probably fall over my own feet and end up in a heap, the laughing stock of the whole court.

Thadora glanced towards the door where Queen Helloria entered with three year old Crown Prince Gerim. Dowager Queen Carrolla accompanied her. Seeing Randa and Almoro, they approached.  

The company bowed or curtsied to the two queens, Thadora barely managing to keep her balance as she stifled the swear word that sprang to her lips. If she swore in front of two queens, her father would definitely kill her.

“I am really sorry your wedding has been spoiled.” Queen Helloria shook her head and hugged Prince Gerim tightly. “I hope we can avoid a war with Erian. What’s this Master doing, attacking us? We’ve been at peace for so long.”

Little Prince Gerim squirmed. When the queen released him he ran towards Starr. Yssa and Queen Helloria moved off to discuss the merits of their children. 

Queen Carolla turned to Sandron. “I wondered why your brother wasn’t here. Do you think it’s anything to do with this crisis?”

“I don’t know, Your Majesty,” Sandron replied, “but I think Muldee, here, might be able to help find out.”

“Ah, yes, your little dragonet. I heard…”

Muldee interrupted the queen dowager. “I’m not his little dragonet. I’m my own little dragonet. I’m not a pet to be owned by someone.”

Thadora stifled a grin that Muldee should speak so to a queen, but the monarch smiled.

“My apologies, Muldee. How can you help find out?”

“You might have heard we dragonets are telepathic. We can hear people’s thoughts. Oh, not everybody, and not all the time.” He giggled. “But it’s fun sometimes to listen to the thoughts of people if they don’t know about blocking.”

“Stop chattering, Muldee.” Sandron turned to the queen who had a slight frown on her face. “I apologise, Your Majesty. Muldee has no idea of rank and treats everyone the same. As to hearing your thoughts, he rarely tries, and even if he does, most people are not telepathic.”

The queen smoothed her face and smiled. “What’s your idea about finding out about your brother?”

“I can ask Muldee to go to Sendolina. It will be much better than sending someone on a horse. He can slip in, listen to people’s thoughts and find out what’s going on.”

“What a good idea.” The queen dowager beckoned to Sandron. “Follow me. We must put this to my son.”

When Sandron and the queen dowager left, the other members of Wolf approached. 

Asphodel smoothed the white robes that showed her as a priestess of Sylissa, the goddess of healing. She curtsied to Prince Almoro before sitting next to Randa. 

Thadora watched The Cat as he squirmed in his seat. She understood why the small thief was uncomfortable. Not long ago he had been a wanted man in Bluehaven and had fled to avoid capture. Now he was here in the royal palace in the company of members of the royal family. He ran his fingers through his dark hair and looked everywhere except at the prince and the queen.

Grimmaldo looked at ease in his yellow robes. She liked the young mage. He made her laugh with his sense of  fun. He did not talk much about his family, but she understood he came from Frind, in the far north, and that his family had been well off merchants. 

Many guests sat on chairs assembled around small tables surrounding the dance floor. From what Thadora could hear, most were discussing the missing duke.

Footmen strolled around the room with glasses of wine and fruit juice. 

All the members of Wolf chose to drink fruit juice, although Basalt exclaimed he would have preferred a good glass of dwarf spirits.

Thadora watched Fero as he looked sharply at the dwarf. “Bas, this is not the place for drinking dwarf spirits, nor any other strong drink. You know what happens when you start.”

“And you’ve never got drunk with me, ranger?” He glanced at Randa and Almoro. “I would have thought this was a perfect time for you to get drunk.”

Fero shook his head. “No, friend. It would spoil her day. That I will not do. I will, however, get blind drunk with you tonight. And perhaps tomorrow, too.”

Review of Beginning of a Hero by Charles Yallowitz 

OVERVIEW:

I got this as a bundle of 3 books, but I am going to review them separately as I read them.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Luke Callindor, even though he has a very Earth-like name for a half-elf!

It is filled with action and great characters. We have a mystery at the beginning. Luke is contracted to safeguard the heir to Serabia. There is only one problem. He doesn’t know who the heir is, for even whether he’s protecting a male or female. When Luke discovers who it is, he is plunged into further problems as he is pursued by a powerful lich and a demonic elf.

BLURB:

Every hero must take the first courageous step into adventure. For Luke Callindor, it’s more of a blind stumble.Depending more on bravery than common sense, Luke sets out to protect a royal heir who is attending the prestigious Hamilton Military Academy. With a demonic assassin in the shadows, the determined warrior will have to think on his feet to defend his charge. If only he waited long enough to find out which student is the hidden noble.With Luke’s dream on the horizon and a deadly enemy on his path, how will he transform from a reckless adventurer to a true hero of Windemere?

CHARACTERS:

Luke Callindor is the main character in this story. He is a forest ranger, tasked with keeping the forest in good health, but he is not the only one of interest.

There is a halfling called Nimby who is great fun. He’s a retired thief and helps Luke in his quest to find out whom he is supposed to be protecting.

Fritz, a gnome, is an illusionist and his illusions are a help in the story. His steed, bizarrely, is a sheep!

Luke, Nimby and Fritz are joined by a half-elf priest, Aedin who is invaluable when people get injured. As they do during the practice fights in the Acadamy.

My favourite character, though, is not humanoid, but a small dragon, a drite called Fizzle. Fizzle is a simple creature, but not without intelligence. He loves apples, especially when baked in a pie.

And there is Luke’s loyal companion, a dog called Stilletto.

As the main character, Luke develops from an inexperienced young fighter to one who learns that strength isn’t the only way to win fights.

All the characters are well-drawn, and have their own clear characteristics, as well as character flaws.

WRITING:

There are a few typos, and, in a couple of places a wrong word is used, but on the whole the writing is good.

Mr Yallowitz paints a clear picture of the world he has created. He shows us how the characters react to each other so we can easily picture the scene.

I enjoyed reading this book and will soon be starting on the second one.

I gave the book 4*

How I rank books.

In order to get a particular number of stars, it is not necessary to meet all the criteria. This is a guide only.

5* Exceptional. Wonderful story. Setting well drawn, and characters believable. Not perfect, but with flaws. Will keep you up all night. No typos or grammatical errors.

4* A thoroughly enjoyable read. Great and original story. Believable setting and characters. Very few grammatical errors or typos.

3* I enjoyed it. Good story. Characters need some development. Some typos or grammatical errors.

2* Not for me. Story not very strong. Unbelievable and flat characters. Setting not clearly defined. Many typos or grammatical errors.

1* I hated it. Story almost non-existent. Setting poor. Possibly couldn’t finish it.

Review of Kor’Thank, Barbarian Girl by Kent Wayne

OVERVIEW:

I enjoyed this ridiculous concept of a story. It was a fun romp through a mixture of scifi and fantasy.

BLURB

On a parallel Earth similar to ours, a barbarian king and an evil cheerleader switch bodies, threatening to destabilize the entire multiverse. That’s just the tip of the adolescent iceberg—in the race against time to set things right, teen genius Peter and master strategist Eun face off against a world-devouring monster.

Tons of profanity. Idiot demon-jocks. Copious psychedelics. An airborne kiss at three hundred miles per hour, dangling from the back of a mushroom-shaped mecha.

This is the high school experience you’ve always wanted. But more importantly, it’s the high school experience you so richly deserve.

STORY

Bodies switched between a barbarian leader on a parallel world and a cheerleader on Earth. Two teens who have the knowledge to switch them back. And a demi-god who appears as various things from a dog to a bicycle to a supercar to a…
The stability of the universe is at stake, and unless Peter and Eun can defeat an evil demi-god and an equally evil company, that’s the end of everything.
I don’t want to say more, except that I loved the velociraptor steeds of the barbarians. (except for a couple of occasions when Mr Wayne mentions them rearing. Since velociraptors are two-legged creatures, I found that I could not conceive of this idea,)

CHARACTERS

The characters are fun and varied. Eun is the strategist behind the operation, and Peter the scientist. I loved Kor’Thank, the barbarian leader, who found himself in the body of a teenage girl. His reaction to this was interesting. As was the reaction of Holly, the girl cheerleader who ended up in Kor’Thank’s body. But she became more nasty and evil.
The characters did change throughout the story, adapting to their circumstances—Kor’Thank for the better, and Holly for the worse. I don’t want to say more.

WRITING

The writing was good. Very few things that irritated me.

SUMMARY

I give the book 4*.
If you’ve read anything else by Mr Wayne, you will find this very different.
Although it is about teenagers, I would not recommend it for teens to read. There is much swearing and some sex.
It is a fun read.

If you would like to receive an exclusive, free short story by me, called The Haunted Table, simply click the link. This will take you to the page where you can download it.

Maria and Tom have bought an antique table for the old cottage they have bought. When they hear strange noises in the night that sound like crying, they worry their house is haunted, but the sounds seem to come from the table.

They set about trying to find what is causing the disturbances. The answer is stranger than either of them had thought.

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A Review of Dyrwolf by Kat Kinney

OVERVIEW:

I don’t usually read books that mention werewolves (nor vampires, and definitely not zombies) I feel that they have had their time and are overdone. Having said that, I decided to take a risk and read Dyrwolf. Am I glad I did?

I would not so much call the wolf/humans in this story werewolves, more shapeshifters. Many of them can shift to their wolf personas and shapes regardless of the moon, but they do respond to it.

BLURB

Lea Wylder has spent so long hunting werewolves that now one is stalking her in her sleep. In the unforgiving forests of the north, shape-shifting wolves have enslaved the sole human city for hundreds of miles, driving survivors up into the mountains. When Lea tracks a shifter and finds him caught in a trap, she’s convinced he’s the white wolf from her dreams. Not that it matters. He’s one of them. And they’re at war.

But as Lea pulls back the bowstring, Henrik shifts to human and begs her not to shoot. By name. But how could he possibly know her?

In twenty years, the wolves have never crossed the river over to their side. Injured and unable to walk, Henrik needs Lea’s help to get back home. If he could be turned against the pack, it could change the course of the war. But first there’s the small problem of returning him to the wolves—without getting caught.

STORY

This is an excellent story that kept me gripped and wanting to know what happens next. The heroine, a sixteen year old human girl called Lea, needs to find a way to return a seriously injured shape-shifting wolf back to his home.

Of course, Henrick, as the dyrwolf is called, is an enemy, and Lea should have killed him, but he resembles the wolf she has seen in her dreams, and she cannot bring herself to do so.

It is a dangerous trip, where they meet near death on several occasions, not to mention their fraught relationship as enemies.

There are twists in the story as Lea discovers more about herself and the history of the people and their enemies, the dyrwolves.

There are humerous moments, too, as well as danger and anxiety.

CHARACTERS

Ms Kinney has drawn some very likeable characters in this book—and also some very unlikeable ones.

Lea is a girl with many problems—a mother who committed suicide, debilitating migraines, and she is considered strange by the villagers and has only one real friend.

Her friend is a young man called Salem. He feels protective towards Lea and turns up to help her when she goes out to perform a rite in which she has to burn the fields of grain of the enemy.

Henrick is most likeable. He is in many ways very innocent. The relationship between him and Lea is believable and their confusion about it is very real.

WRITING

This is a well-written book. Ms Kinney’s descriptions are wonderful and I loved reading them. They set the scene beautifully.

Lea’s referring to Henrick as a dandelion puff (referencing his white fur when in wolf form) is wonderful.

The descriptions of Lea’s problems with her migraines (that she doesn’t know what they are) are most believable and I could almost feel her pain.

The surprises in the story are also introduced at just the right places.

If I have to make an adverse criticism, I would say that there are a few unnecessary words. Mainly prepositions, like someone looking up at the stars. We know the stars are up! But that would be nit-picking. I found no typos or other grammatical errors, which is a refreshing change.

This is well worth a read. I gave it 5*

I have pre-ordered the second book, and am looking forward to receiving it.

Muldee, a Dragonet, Small Relative of Dragons.

A small dragon-like creature sitting on a rock. He has two whisker-like protruberances from his chin, and three from behind where his ear might have been.
Two backward facing horns are situated on his head..
His tail ends in an arrow-like form. He has four legs with four talons on each foot, and two bat-like wings, between which, a ridge of spines follows the curve of his backbone. 
His colour  is most impressive. He is not one flat colour, but has mixed red, green, yellow, blue etc. A very pretty creature.
He has a kind eye and looks as if he has a smile on his face.
Image by Homer Manansala from Pixabay

Hi, everybody. My name’s Muldee and I’m a dragonet. Don’t know what one of them is? I’m not surprised. We’re rather rare. *smirks*.

Even most people from Vimar don’t know we exist. By the way, Vimar is the world on which I live.

When those people who call themselves Wolf first saw me and my siblings, they thought we were baby dragons. As if! We may be smaller than our cousins, but we are much superior. Dragons don’t have any psi powers. *wrinkles his nose*. And they are such selfish and vain creatures with no sense of humour.

Nor are they as beautiful as we dragonets, with our iridescent scales. They are just one flat colour. BORING.

Anyway, back to me. Dragonets are born from eggs, like dragons, but our mothers lay them in warm shallow water. (I was born in a lake that I’ve been told is warmed by heat from volcanos.)

My favourite food is fish, but I enjoy eating small mammals and even insects as a change. When I want to catch a fish, I dive into the water from high above, folding my wings back. I rarely miss when I spot one

Catching land creatures is different. I can hardly dive onto a mouse or rat. I’d bang my head something dreadful. *giggles*. So to catch land animals. I use my psi powers. I send a wave of power, a bit like a loud noise, into their heads. It’s usually enough to kill them. If we want to kill something larger, we band together and all send the noise at once. That does the trick.

I love to play. Me and my brothers and sisters had great times, playing in the water and doing acrobatics in the air. I had a great time when Wolf came. That dwarf—Basalt’s his name—has no sense of humour. He was in the water, not very deep, having a wash. His friends had swum out farther, so I decided to have a bit of fun. I dived and charged his legs. Of course, he fell in. *laughs loudly*. He was so cross. *He is unable to stop laughing*.

When they left, I decided to go with them to find some adventure. I learned a lot from reading people’s minds. *grins*. I’m not supposed to, and I always say I don’t, but it’s so much fun. The things people don’t want anyone to know! You’d be amazed at what people think. Most people seem to like me though.

*Jumps in the air and does a barrel-roll, then loops the loop*.

Sometimes I make a servant jump by hiding behind a curtain and making a small object move by itself. I once had a young girl run screaming down the corridor. I think I’ve been the start of a lot of tales of ghosts in some of the places I’ve lived.

I stay with Sandron because he’s fun, too. Did you know he once led a band of bandits? He’s the youngest son of the old Duke of Sendolina, so had nothing to do. He did it for fun. We had good times, he and I, until all this talk of war started.

I might go back to the lake if everyone gets serious. At least my brothers and sisters will still want to play.

V.M.Sang has agreed to give me a bigger role in her latest book. It’s not finished yet, but I’m looking forward to seeing what she does. I told her she should make more of my role in the story.

I hope you’ll read the book when it comes out. Until then, Cheerio.

*Leaps into the air and flaps a few times around the room.*

You feel a scratching in your brain, which seems to turn into words. Or perhaps you’re just imagining it.

Have I been reading your mind while I talked to you? What have I learned that you didn’t want anyone to know? Haha. You’ll never find out!

*Flies out of the window.*

I would love to know what you think of Muldee. Let me know in the comments box, please.

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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