Format: Chapter Sampler | Online

A #PubDay Stories in the Spotlight | [the stories on Jorie’s readerly radar] feat. notes and an extract of “Breathing Underwater” by Sarah Allen

Posted Tuesday, 30 March, 2021 by jorielov , , 1 Comment

Stories in the Spotlight banner created by Jorie in Canva.

Hallo, Hallo dear hearts!

I am a HUGE champion of Middle Grade Fiction! I started to re-immerse myself into this wonderful landscape of stories through my local library in [2008] when I realised how many wicked wonderful authors were publishing the kind of stories I would have itched to have been able to read whilst I was a Middle Grade reader in elementary school! These are the stories which are either set in Contemporary or Historical worlds enriched by the breadth of their character’s journeys and leveraged with emotional conviction by their writers.

I had intended to interview this lovely author for the blog tour – however, whilst I started working full-time after a long hiatus this February and was re-adjusting to working after being my Dad’s carer for the past five years since his stroke – it took me away from my blog and left me a bit out of hours to complete some of the interviews I had planned to feature this Spring. Thereby, I was grateful to Xpresso for helping me feature an extract for this lovely release instead today!

Being that is is #MiddleGradeMarch – I had hoped to release some of the reviews I had planned to champion last year (see also Post) whilst talking about the new ones I’ve been finding on #bookTwitter and/or through my local library which has been a wicked wonderful resource for me in discovering the latest #MiddleGrade releases which capture my bookish eye of curiosity! You will be seeing a few of those coming up during #WyrdAndWonder this May – keep your eyes on @WyrdAndWonder via Twitter for announcements and the event’s feeds wherein everyone in the book blogging community who joins us for our 4th Year of celebrating Fantasy will be having features, reviews and other content on their blogs throughout May, 2021.

Be sure to read the extract and my thoughts about the story to see if this perhaps might wink an interest into your own readerly wanderings this year! And, let’s all take a moment to give a shout of joy to our beautiful Middle Grade authors who still enchant us with their stories as adults! As all stories are for all readers!!

Remember – brew your favourite cuppa and enjoy your stay!

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A #PubDay Stories in the Spotlight | [the stories on Jorie’s readerly radar] feat. notes and an extract of “Breathing Underwater” by Sarah AllenBreathing Underwater
by Sarah Allen
Source: Chapter Sampler

Breathing Underwater is a sparkly, moving middle grade novel from Sarah Allen, and a big-hearted exploration of sisterhood, dreams, and what it means to be there for someone you love.

Olivia is on the road trip of her dreams, with her trusty camera and her big sister Ruth by her side. Three years ago, before their family moved from California to Tennessee, Olivia and Ruth buried a time capsule on their favorite beach. Now, they’re taking an RV back across the country to uncover the memories they left behind. But Ruth’s depression has been getting worse, so Olivia has created a plan to help her remember how life used to be: a makeshift scavenger hunt across the country, like pirates hunting for treasure, taking pictures and making memories along the way.

All she wants is to take the picture that makes her sister smile. But what if things can never go back to how they used to be? What if they never find the treasure they’re seeking? Through all the questions, loving her sister, not changing her, is all Olivia can do—and maybe it’s enough.

Genres: Children's Literature, Middle Grade


Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-0374313258

Published by Farrar Straus and Giroux Books for Young Readers

on 30th March, 2021

Format: Chapter Sampler | Online

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Converse on Twitter via: #BreathingUnderwater as well as #MGLit and #MiddleGrade

About Sarah Allen

Sarah Allen

Sarah Allen has been published in The Evansville Review, Allegory, and on WritersDigest. She has an MFA from Brigham Young University. Like Libby in her novel What Stars are Made Of, Allen was born with Turner Syndrome.

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Posted Tuesday, 30 March, 2021 by jorielov in Blog Tour Host, Book | Novel Extract, Book Blitz, Book Spotlight, Xpresso Book Tours

An Indie Fantasy Book Spotlight and Extract | “Sand Dancer” (Book One: Sand Dancer series) by Trudie Skies

Posted Tuesday, 16 March, 2021 by jorielov , , , 0 Comments

Stories in the Spotlight banner created by Jorie in Canva.

Hallo, Hallo dear hearts!

Today it is an honour to host this lovely Fantasy blog tour with Storytellers on Tour – a blog touring company whose championing Indie Storytellers and giving us all a lovely chance to feature their collective works. I have been hosting with them for the past year and I have found quite a few lovely new authors of Fantasy Fiction who have given me wicked good explorations of the genre and of the vision the writers had for their worlds. It is wonderful to be able to showcase these authors and their stories – whilst featuring guest posts and respun memes whenever I am unable to read the books in print or host an interview.

I had hoped to interview the author, however with my new work hours and adjusting to working full-time this past month, I had to go to my Plan B for the blog tour. Thereby I was grateful to Justine @ Storytellers on Tour for giving me the option to host this extract – as it will give you a good sense about the story and their world.

I did edit the extract a bit with permission by Justine – not just for length but for content. Some of the descriptions I felt were a bit outside what I would normally feature on Jorie Loves A Story as there were some graphic depictions I cut into an easier read for those following the blog tour.

As I love focusing on Indie Fantasy storytellers myself every #WyrdAndWonder – which I briefly mention at the end of this post. The reason I love Indie Speculative Fiction is because the writers of those stories are happily giving me wicked good stories to ruminate over and enticingly intriguing worlds to explore.

Brew yourself a cuppa and let’s find out more about “Sand Dancer”!

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

An Indie Fantasy Book Spotlight and Extract | “Sand Dancer” (Book One: Sand Dancer series) by Trudie SkiesSand Dancer
Subtitle: One Sword : One Thousand Secrets
by Trudie Skies
Source: Author via Storytellers on Tour

Only monsters summon fire by magic. It’s a sin against the sun god and a crime against the king. The punishment is death.

But when sixteen-year-old Mina discovers fire magic runs in her family’s blood, it’s just the beginning of the secrets her father has been keeping from her. When her father is murdered, this half-starved peasant girl finds herself on the run—pursued across the desert by the soldiers and guards of the noble Houses. To survive, she knows she’ll have to abandon her past and learn the way of the sword. But only boys are allowed to carry a blade. There’s only one solution…

Disguised as a young nobleman, Mina must make a new life for herself in the heart of her enemies. But she knows she can’t keep up the masquerade forever. With time running out, which will she choose to find—the truth or revenge?

Genres: Dark Fantasy, Epic Fantasy, Fantasy Fiction


Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781949671025

Published by Uproar Books

on 1st July, 2019

Format: Chapter Sampler | Online

Fire Walker is the sequel to Sand Dancer

NOTE: There is a Content Warning page on the author’s site for Fire Walker

Published by: Uproar Books (@UproarBooks)

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Read an Extract from this Novel:

Sand Dancer world map provided by Storytellers on Tour and is used with permission.

When her father’s murder reveals a lifetime of lies, a half-starved peasant girl must disguise herself as a young nobleman if she hopes to make her way into the heart of her enemies. But what is she truly after—the truth or revenge?

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Sand Dancer quote graphic provided by the author Trudie Skies and is used with permission.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

THE MONSTER OF KHALBAD

Father’s rules for becoming a legendary warrior didn’t match his tales.

Keep out of trouble, don’t play at sword fighting, stay away from Housemen, and never, under any circumstances, approach fire.

Over time, his words changed from mantras of honor to instructions of modesty, as though Mina’s father sobered and remembered his son existed as a girl all along. His training stopped the moment she bled. When pressed, he spouted nonsense that only men could wield a blade and Mina should drop all foolish notions of becoming a warrior to focus on her studies as a Green Hand. It was an argument she lost many times. Girls don’t become warriors. They become healers.

Why teach her all those tales of their tribe’s warriors and heroes? Why show her how to swing a sword if he planned to ignore it all based on her sex? Those heroes wouldn’t have followed Father’s cowardly advice. Who would have heard their tales if they did?

Girls could become warriors. Mina just needed to prove it.

The fire-breathing monsters who haunted Father’s tales were no longer allowed to wander the sands or stalk the streets, thank the gods. Those possessing the curse of flame were locked away inside the temples. Only a few chosen men with absolute control of their abilities were permitted to step outside and serve as priests by performing public rites and lighting the town’s lanterns. Whispers spoke of blasphemers who tried to hide their fire and refused to join the temple. For the safety of all, these monsters needed to be found and put to death under the King’s law.

In all Father’s tales, the monster only met its end when one brave warrior stood against it. And there were no greater monsters than the Fire Walkers.

Mina crouched among the wicker baskets at the far corner of the market, watching and waiting. Her dirty beige tunic and headscarf merged with the sandstone townhouse behind her. No one paid her heed as townsfolk wandered between stalls of rice and pistachios. Sand grains danced across the dusty ground, blown in from the dunes piled against the town wall, the only barrier between them and the greater Dusland desert.

Khalbad’s street rats understood what she planned to do. She scanned the crowd for their familiar faces, a mixture of younger orphans and grim-faced boys growing into men. They sat under cloth canopies and stared as though they didn’t believe she could be brave enough to do it. Though they all lived under the shadow of Housemen and fought for scraps, the streets rats had never welcomed her into their little tribe. Mina went as hungry as any of them, but even though her skin was the same Duslander brown as theirs, they made her feel different, an outsider, due to her real tribal blood. The tribes of the desert were nomadic and rarely entered towns like Khalbad, so her father said. Perhaps if they did, she and her father wouldn’t have spent their lives here dreaming of a world outside.

The heat of Rahn, the god of fire and dawn, burned overhead. Soon the marketplace would start to empty. Stall owners, craftsmen, and fishermen from the docks would retreat into shade until Rahn passed low enough to make the stuffy air breathable. The clearing of the market would create a river of people for Mina to dive into. The perfect time to strike.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Sand Dancer quote graphic provided by the author Trudie Skies and is used with permission.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Converse via: #Fantasy, #EpicFantasy or #HeoricFantasy
as well as #storytellersontour & #EnterTheFantastic as #JorieReads

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Posted Tuesday, 16 March, 2021 by jorielov in Blog Tour Host, Book | Novel Extract, Book Spotlight, Fantasy Fiction, Indie Author, Storytellers on Tour

An #HistFic Book Spotlight | feat. an extract from “Thunder on the Moor” (Book Book, Thunder on the Moor series) by Andrea Matthews

Posted Friday, 19 February, 2021 by jorielov , , , 4 Comments

Stories in the Spotlight banner created by Jorie in Canva.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Hallo, Hallo dear hearts!

Youmay not realise it but one of my favourite subniches of literature are the trifecta of how time can become bent inside stories: time shift, time slip and time travel! The third of which in the context of today’s featured novelist and series is most likely a bit more well-known since “Outlander” – both the series and the tv adaptation which took off into reader’s hearts worldwide. I, on the other hand – gathered most of the books but hesitated to read them and only read a partial portion of “The Outlandish Companion” as I was more keenly interested in the author’s writerly process and approach to creating her series than I was in the actual series itself. Part of that might have been readerly intuition? As I learnt lateron there are scenes and sequences within the Outlander series which might not have agreed with my readerly sensibilities and I felt better knowing I hadn’t read the series outright.

However, my pursuit of time travel romances never was curtailed – when I was a reviewer for ChocLitUK, I happily read stories by Kirsty Ferry and Christina Courtenay which focused on time travelling romances – many of which I was thankful to review on Jorie Loves A Story. I also purchased a large stack of time travelling romances from a regional library two Christmases ago and still intend on reading them as a way back into my own writerly pursuits as a method of reading outside my intended genre for inspiration. Ergo, I always have a ready eye out on this genre as it is one which interests me as a reader moreso than as a writer.

Scottish stories are equally curious to me – one of my favourite BBC serials is “Monarch of the Glen” – despite the fact part of that series ending episodes was dearly dramatic and emotionally gutting – it was the kind of quirky series you love to get invested inside and fall in love with both the characters and the setting. I love Scotland as a country, too, and being I have a lot of UK ancestral roots – any story set in the UK is going to be one I’ll favour!

Thereby it is with a hearty wicked welcome I am bringing a short extract from “Thunder on the Moor” to Jorie Loves A Story today! I had intended to interview the author but due to personal circumstances earlier in the month and injuries stemming out of the end of January – I was short on time to complete that goal. I hope you enjoy the extract I have for you on the blog tour and perhaps this story will whet a thirst of interest for you to seek out if you’re as mad for time travelling romances as I am!

Brew your favourite cuppa & enjoy!

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

An #HistFic Book Spotlight | feat. an extract from “Thunder on the Moor” (Book Book, Thunder on the Moor series) by Andrea MatthewsThunder on the Moor
by Andrea Matthews
Source: Chapter Sampler

Maggie Armstrong grew up enchanted by her father’s tales of blood feuds and border raids. In fact, she could have easily fallen for the man portrayed in one particular image in his portrait collection. Yet when her father reveals he was himself an infamous Border reiver, she finds it a bit far-fetched—to say the least—especially when he announces his plans to return to his sixteenth century Scottish home with her in tow.

Suspecting it’s just his way of getting her to accompany him on yet another archaeological dig, Maggie agrees to the expedition, only to find herself transported four hundred and fifty years into the past. Though a bit disoriented at first, she discovers her father’s world to be every bit as exciting as his stories, particularly when she’s introduced to Ian Rutherford, the charming son of a neighboring laird. However, when her uncle announces her betrothal to Ian, Maggie’s twentieth-century sensibilities are outraged. She hardly even knows the man. But a refusal of his affections could ignite a blood feud.

Maggie’s worlds are colliding. Though she’s found the family she always wanted, the sixteenth century is a dangerous place. Betrayal, treachery, and a tragic murder have her questioning whether she should remain or try to make her way back to her own time.

To make matters worse, tensions escalate when she stumbles across Bonnie Will Foster, the dashing young man in her father’s portrait collection, only to learn he is a dreaded Englishman. But could he be the hero she’s always dreamed him to be? Or will his need for revenge against Ian shatter more than her heart?

Genres: Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Time Travel Fiction


Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-1733337502

Published by Self Published

on 31st October, 2019

Format: Chapter Sampler | Online

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Further Readings about the series on Andrea Matthew’s website:
Notes behind the series of Thunder on the Moor

Converse via: #HistoricalRomance or #HistRom or #HistoricalRomance
+ #ThunderOnTheMoor and #HFVBTBlogTours

Available Formats: Trade paperback and Ebook

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Posted Friday, 19 February, 2021 by jorielov in Blog Tour Host, Book Spotlight, Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, Indie Author

An Indie Fantasy Book Spotlight and Extract | “Rising Shadows” (Book One: The Pillar of Creation) by Phillip Blackwater

Posted Tuesday, 16 February, 2021 by jorielov , , 0 Comments

Stories in the Spotlight banner created by Jorie in Canva.

Hallo, Hallo dear hearts!

Today it is an honour to host this lovely Fantasy blog tour with Storytellers on Tour – a blog touring company whose championing Indie Storytellers and giving us all a lovely chance to feature their collective works. I have been hosting with them for the past year and I have found quite a few lovely new authors of Fantasy Fiction who have given me wicked good explorations of the genre and of the vision the writers had for their worlds. It is wonderful to be able to showcase these authors and their stories – whilst featuring guest posts and respun memes whenever I am unable to read the books in print or host an interview.

As you might be aware if you’ve seen the tweet I posted on my @joriestory feeds earlier last week, there was a personal emergency which took me offline and became the reason why my blog was barely surfacing for the past week as well. Due to severe storms everyone is experiencing this new week as well as over the past weekend, I am sure having connectivity issues is something plaguing us all as book bloggers and tweeters alike. I wasn’t able to return to my blog until late Monday night, wherein I edited this featured spotlight for the blog tour and I was able to release my thoughts on behalf of a third installment on a Historical Fantasy trilogy I’ve been happily reading since last February! (ie. the Night Flyer trilogy by Edale Lane)

I had hoped to respin a meme post for Top Ten Tuesday today – however, my attentions were elsewhere and I needed to be with my family through this adverse time. Thereby I was grateful to Justine @ Storytellers on Tour for giving me the option to host this extended extract – as it is a bit longer than most and I decided as I place all extracts into a scroll box for easy reading for my visitors & readers alike – I felt this might be an extra special surprise for everyone! Plus, it will give you a good sense about the story and their world.

I did edit the extract a bit with permission by Justine – not just for length, as I kept it quite on the longer side of the ledger but for content. Some of the descriptions I felt were a bit outside what I would normally feature on Jorie Loves A Story as there were some graphic depictions of the battle scenes – some of which went into greater descriptive text than even I prefer as a reader whilst most of it I cut to trim it into an easier read for those following the blog tour.

This is the week I am starting to return to blogging and will eventually become more active on Twitter again as well. I appreciate your patience and for standing with me as I worked through the past week and was able to return at a point which worked best for me as a reader, book blogger and tweeter. Likewise, for those who are living through the incredible ice storms, power outages and blizzards – I pray you have power, food and plenty of heat to get you through the coming days and weeks ahead. If you’re browsing blogs to keep yourself entertained whilst you can’t get outside – I hope this blog tour might give you a reason to pick up a new Indie Fantasy author’s work.

As I love focusing on Indie Fantasy storytellers myself every #WyrdAndWonder – which I briefly mention at the end of this post. The reason I love Indie Speculative Fiction is because the writers of those stories are happily giving me wicked good stories to ruminate over and enticingly intriguing worlds to explore.

Brew yourself a cuppa and let’s find out more about “Rising Shadows”!

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

An Indie Fantasy Book Spotlight and Extract | “Rising Shadows” (Book One: The Pillar of Creation) by Phillip BlackwaterRising Shadows
Subtitle: The Pillar of Creation
by Phillip Blackwater
Source: Author via Storytellers on Tour

As tension rises between the southern and northern nations of the small continent of Exitium in the world of Anteris, the Elves turn to their eastern neighbors, the Humans, for help. They wish to learn the ways of combat, which they are not accustomed to, for they have always wielded a power far greater than forged steel. The Shards of Creation, mystical artifacts of great and virtually infinite power, have always been their prized weapon, but times have changed. They now face the same threat as the Humans: the southern nation known as the Ethula.

Wariel Ritch, general of the Human army, will take upon his shoulders this burden. But when a shadow of a past long forgotten threatens what little stability is left in the world, he will have to leave everything behind to stop it. Medregal Tergrast, an Ethulan king, dead for a thousand years, plans his return to the world of the living to gain back his former glory and finally fulfill his destiny by gaining control of the Shards of Creation. But is he really the threat people make him out to be?

In the meantime, in the bowels of the Human Kingdom, the reign of Dana Crystaloak is put into jeopardy when people around her start questioning her decisions. If she falls, war could break out across all lands.

Genres: Epic Fantasy, Fantasy Fiction


Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ASIN: B08H9PPGSK

Published by Self Published

on 1st September, 2020

Format: Chapter Sampler | Online

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Read an Extract from this Novel:

RISING SHADOWS BY PHILLIP BLACKWATER

Excerpt

Wariel Ritch, general of the Human army, stood in the fields south of Baylin, capital of the Human Kingdom.

Flanked by two of his soldiers, the Ironfist twins, Edgard and Edward, he faced a group of roughly fifty Ethulan men who’d come north of their lands to pillage and plunder the Human citizens.

They were dressed in rags, torn and muddy, with most wielding the weapon of the Ethulas. The sleben, a metal handle with a single short blade attached resting on the top of their hands, was wrapped around their wrists with cloth for more stability.

It wasn’t a particularly efficient weapon, but served two clear purposes: it was cheap to make, and you had to get in close to fight, which the Ethulas preferred.

Wariel liked to stroll outside the main city. The air was fresher; there was a lot more greenery – and fewer people.

This morning though, he could have done without it.

On the other hand, if he had not been here, a lot of his kinsmen could have met a gruesome fate.

What was he, if not the protector of the citizens?

He wasn’t sure why the Ethulas stood immobile before him, until he looked at their faces and saw them taking in his armor. It was completely coated with a layer of gold, aside from the silver sigil of the griffin on its hind legs embedded in the middle of his cuirass, which shone like a beacon with the early rays of the sun.

“Leave now, return to your lands and never come back.”

He knew they wouldn’t. It was only for his conscience of the things that would come next.

They stopped contemplating his golden kit and raised their weapons. “If we go back now,” one of the Ethulan men said, “we might as well be dead.” The same Ethula pointed his sleben toward Wariel. “But your armor could solve all our problems. Hand it over.”

“Maybe you should step back, General,” Edward said. “There’s a lot of them.”

“I’m glad you care for my safety, Edward, but this is the first group of Ethulas to ever reach Baylin. I’m not moving.”

“You lot should be the ones running away,” Edgard said. “You don’t know who you’re messing with.”

Wariel glanced at the hot-tempered Edgard. The twins were a head taller than the average Human. Their nickname in the army, the Twin Towers, was an exact description of their size. It gave them a confidence most men didn’t have. Yet Wariel wanted nothing more right now than to have Edgard’s mouth sewn shut.

The group of Ethulan men took a step forward. Wariel grabbed the silver hilt of his sword, or his work tool as he had taken to calling it.

“Fifty against three? We’ll take our chances.”

“Three? Haven’t you noticed the city behind us?”

“We see it alright, but I think we can get that armor off you before anyone else shows up.”

As if to begin their lethal duel, a bell rang in the distance, signaling that the city guards were aware of the Ethulas’ presence.

The group of foreigners charged and the three Humans took a step back to firmly plant themselves to fight.

Wariel unsheathed his golden blade, grabbed his tower shield from his back, and took a breath of cold fresh air before closing his mouthguard.

His heartbeat was stable.

He was ready to do what he had been trained for.

 

 

Wariel followed the main road to Baylin, passing amongst the buildings outside of the capital, and entered the area of Lower Baylin through the main gate.

Both areas looked alike: buildings made of a mix of dark wood and rocks, usually two stories high. The roofs of the buildings, with prominent slopes, unloaded to the ground what snow had gripped to it until now.

People, dressed not much better than the Ethulas that had attacked, were packed in the streets. Some went about making purchases of either clothes or food, while others were hard at work, as if the morning’s attack had never happened.

From tailors and coopers, to butchers and bakers, every service the citizens needed was established here. The marketplace where the farmers could come to sell their products was at the center of it all. In this part of town also lived the less fortunate of the Humans.

Wariel passed through the area at a quick pace, the people making way before him. Seeing the citizens in such crude conditions made him ashamed every time he paraded before them in his golden armor. For the number of times he had done it though, most of them had stopped paying attention a long time ago.

He quickened his pace even more when the wretched smell of sweat and sickness, made its way back through his nostrils and filled his lungs once more.

Although winter had lasted longer this year, he found himself wishing it back again. He would take the cold over the smell anytime.

He glanced behind him, to the opened gates of the city. The green of the outside, which had provided him with a much-appreciated break from the stench, disappeared when the road veered right.

After a while on the main road, he felt the small uphill climb burning in his legs. At the end, a large tower loomed over both Lower and Higher Baylin, which lay on the other side of another gate and wall separating the city in two.

It was the Guard Tower, where most soldiers resided while in function in the city. Besides the tower and behind another wall, was another part of the city, closed off from both Lower and Higher Baylin, the Military Academy, where he had spent his early life training to become a soldier, and in which every soldier to be was trained.

He had come into the school at an early age, after his family had fallen prey to the Ethulas, as a lot of other families.

Sword and shield were all he knew.

Nostalgia and sadness filled him at the same moment every time he thought of that part of his life. He often wished for a simpler time, when his family had surrounded him, and the fate of the kingdom didn’t rest on his shoulders. Fate had decided otherwise: he had been chosen to protect every citizen, every family like his own who couldn’t defend themselves.

The guards stepped aside when he approached the gate between the two halves of the city and saluted him with a nod. Higher Baylin was a place reserved for nobles. Only the wealthiest and most prestigious of the Humans could afford to live there.

It was arduous for poor people to ascend in the ranks of the Human Kingdom. More often than not, they stayed in Lower Baylin or small villages all their lives.

Mainzyr, second city in importance in the Human Kingdom, fared no better. Nobility was even rarer, and most citizens worked in mines, sweating, picking and pulling iron ore from the eastern mountains.

With unlikely prospects for bettering their future, Humans were starting to embrace the independent city of Al Fizyr, west of Baylin. Even if religion spoke greatly against migrating there, more people chose this avenue every year.

As Wariel made his way through the gate and into Higher Baylin, a delegation of Elves walked past him. They were accompanied by the queen’s advisor and some of her guards.

The general stopped, perplexed, to take a good look and make sure he wasn’t day-dreaming. One of the Elves wore a white robe, while the others were wearing simple chainmail and leather.

Elves didn’t usually leave the comfort of their kingdom unless they had good reasons. Their famous Shards of Creation were supposed to provide everything they needed. He had heard rumors that a group of them had entered the city a few days prior, but had dismissed the idea, pinning it on gossip.

What could they be doing here? The Elves cared for nobody, and nobody cared for the Elves, not even Wariel. He even heard that the Elves braided their hair simply to show their pointy ears so they wouldn’t be mistaken for another race.

Their presence here foreboded nothing good.

Wariel picked up his walk again. He was already on his way to meet with the queen. She would know why they were here.

Lost in his thoughts, trying to figure out what the self-proclaimed almighty Elves were doing here, he barely noticed a large shadow passing over him.

He continued until he reached the Town Square, the market area of Higher Baylin, where the shadow appeared again and he looked up to find a large griffin circling above. If it was so far away from its natural habitat, the northern cliffs and the island named after them, it meant it was probably the young griffin tamer who had come and gone a few times.

He had taken to flying to the various cities showing off his pet griffin, trying to get a few coins from it. Wariel should have probably stopped him from bringing his wild animal into cities long ago, but what was he supposed to do? Times were hard: there was an overabundance of people for the few available trades. The poor bugger was simply trying to make a living, and it distracted the people from the difficult times. They didn’t need more people leaving for Al Fizyr.

Wariel looked down again. A delegation of soldiers was approaching. The white cloaks they wore were the official sign of the queen’s guard. The two soldiers in front stepped aside and Dana Crystaloak, queen of the Humans, was revealed amongst them.

His heart jumped. Every time he saw her, a smile crept on the corner of his lips and his eyes gleamed. Whatever bad things had happened in his day, it always went away.

The queen was wearing her usual puffy dark red and white dress, with golden laces tying it in the front and back. Her shimmering pale blond hair, resembling silver, was majestically raised on her head in a bundle, her crystal crown placed amongst it.

Her crown, a gift from the Elves on the day of her coronation, was entirely made of crystal. In a way, it looked like an oak. The rim resting on her head was made of interlaced lines imitating roots. The lines, after completing the rim, went up in the front, conglomerating into a trunk.  It continued up, splitting into branches and some diamonds, ornated here and there, imitated leaves. It represented her family name well, though it had been decided long before her.

Her eyes, green as a summer forest, fixed Wariel, and a smile crept upon her face too.

Before she or Wariel could speak, a dozen people, only slightly better dressed than the ones in Lower Baylin, rushed in from all around.

“It’s the queen!”

The citizens fell to their knees where the queen had walked moments before. They tried to scoop mud and dirt from where she had walked, and what they could gather they would hold on to for dear life.

It was said that the Guide, the goddess of the Human religion, had come down from the sky riding a griffin to lay a baby girl at the feet of the first Humans. She had grown to become the first queen, and all first daughters after her were to be queens also, directly descending from the Guide.

While the griffin had lost its religious connotation and found new meaning as the Human sigil, the queen was still very much revered by the people, even though she played no active part in the Church’s activities.

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Posted Tuesday, 16 February, 2021 by jorielov in Blog Tour Host, Book | Novel Extract, Book Spotlight, Fantasy Fiction, Indie Author, Storytellers on Tour, Sword & Scorcery