Genre: Epic Fantasy

A #WyrdAndWonder Audiobook Review | “The One Great Gnome” by Jeff Dinardo, narrated by Simone Stevens, courtesy of #NetGalley

Posted Monday, 10 May, 2021 by jorielov , , , , , 2 Comments

#WyrdAndWonder Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Book By: In late Winter (February, 2020) I joined NetGalley for the first time as they finally announced they were going to be offering full-length audiobooks for reviewers. I was never able to join NetGalley due to having chronic migraines and being unable to read ebooks. I started requesting audiobooks to review as soon as they opened their audiobook catalogue in July, 2020. I am an eclectic reader and thereby, you will see all genres in Fiction explored from both markets of interest: mainstream and INSPY as well as from Major Trade, Indie Publishers & Press and other routes of publication, too. There might be the occasional Non-Fiction title appearing in my NetGalley queue of reviews as well. This marks a new adventure for me seeking stories for review consideration and I look forward to seeing where the stories lead me to venture.

I received a complimentary digital and temporary audiobook copy of “The One Great Gnome” direct from the publisher One Elm Books (an imprint of Red Chair Press) via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All audiobooks via NetGalley are able to be heard via the NetGalley Shelf which is why I was thankful to be gifted an android tablet by my parents to celebrate my 7th Blog Birthday on Jorie Loves A Story. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

NOTE: As a new reviewer on NetGalley, I’m sorting out how to get the Press Materials for each of the audiobooks I’m reviewing when I share them on my blog Jorie Loves A Story. When I contacted NetGalley Support they informed me that if a separate Press Kit is not included on the audiobook’s book page we’re allowed as reviewers to use the book cover and synopsis provided when we go to share our review of that audiobook on our blogs; as long as we give attribution as I have done at the bottom of this review in “Sources”. Those materials are provided with permission of the publishers to be used by reviewers via NetGalley.

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission.

Why I was intrigued to listen to “The One Great Gnome”:

It all started when I was a young girl fascinated by the tv series (animated) called David the Gnome – which was about David’s wife and their family and their community of gnomes. It was quite an interesting series and I never understood why it didn’t gain more traction on dvd (or perhaps it had and I never knew it?). I’d love to find a collection of it on dvd one day – but until then, I had Gnomeo and Juliet to occupy that space of interest for me! The cheekiness of the plot, the characters themselves and of course, the absurdity of the whole affair is what had me rollicking in laughter since the film started! The fact they made a sequel delighted me to new heights of hilarity!

And, yet, there was a lot of heart in those films, too! I just have always felt a certain fascination about gnomes but I didn’t actively pursue finding more stories or films about them. They just sort of wander into my life every so many years – such as this particular audiobook caught my attention just before Wyrd And Wonder began our 4th Year this May, 2021. And, coincidently enough – right around the same time I found this lovely I also found another which is on an audiobook blog tour!

On the 27th of May – I’ll be talking about another story about gnomes “Magical Neighbours” by Mary Ellen Spencer – be sure to return!

Gnomes are simply interesting characters – they have such distinct personalities – they sometimes remind of me of the seven dwarves in that respect because some are friendly and good-natured whilst others are quite a bit grumpier! You just never know!! I was delighted to see how the author of this story would approach the gnomes and how the story would unfold with having a human girl inclusive of the story as well. So far, I generally read about gnomes where there are no humans engaging with them so this was an unexpected surprise to explore during Wyrd And Wonder!

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission.

Notation on Cover Art Design: 

There is something cute and whimsical about the cover art for this audiobook. I liked how it showcased Sarah and her innocent curiosity about gnomes which I felt translated well throughout the story. It would be a delight to see this artwork up close and personal – and I would imagine the hardback copy would have more illustrations to go in-step with the storyline, too.

A #WyrdAndWonder Audiobook Review | “The One Great Gnome” by Jeff Dinardo, narrated by Simone Stevens, courtesy of #NetGalleyThe One Great Gnome
by Jeff Dinardo
Source: Audiobook Direct from Publisher via NetGalley
Narrator: Simone Stevens

In the spirit of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, this story introduces listeners to the magical and mysterious hidden world of gnomes, elves, and trolls....

Eleven-year-old Sarah moves with her family from New York City to rural Hadley, Connecticut. She's eager to explore her new home and meet new friends, but she never expected to befriend an old garden gnome. Join Sarah as she is drawn into a secret world beneath our feet. Sarah uses her instincts to calm old rivalries and help the underworld elves, gnomes, and more live in peace.

Genres: Action & Adventure Fiction, Children's Literature, Middle Grade, Fantasy Fiction, Epic Fantasy, Middle Grade Fantasy, Juvenile Fiction



Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

Book Page on NetGalley

ISBN: 9781947159594

ASIN: B08T5WMWLZ

on 17th January, 2021

Format: Audiobook | Digital Review Copy (NetGalley)

Length: 2 hours and 48 minutes (unabridged)

Published By: One Elm Books

an imprint of Red Chair Press (@redchairpress)

Formats Available: Hardback, Audiobook and Ebook

Converse via: #MGLit, #MiddleGrade, #MiddleGradeLit or #MGFantasy

as well as #TheOneGreatGnome + #NetGalley and esp #WyrdAndWonder !!

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission.

✍📖 Follow the author: Site 

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission. Read More

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • #WyrdAndWonder
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Posted Monday, 10 May, 2021 by jorielov in Book Review (non-blog tour), Elves & the Elven, Faeries & the Fey, Fairy Tale Fiction, Fantasy Fiction, Fantasy Romance, Indie Author, Mythological Societies, Self-Published Author, Supernatural Creatures & Beings, Supernatural Fiction

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)

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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?

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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.

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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

#EnterTheFantastic | Enter the realms of “The Gifted and the Cursed” – in the conclusion of the trilogy “The End of Dreams” by Marcus Lee

Posted Wednesday, 3 March, 2021 by jorielov , , , 0 Comments

#EnterTheFantastic Book Review banner created by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Book By: During my 3rd Year of co-hosting @WyrdAndWonder, I was able to participate on my first blog tour with Storytellers on Tour which was featuring the author Brianna Sugalski on her “Disenchanted” blog tour. What I appreciated about Storytellers on Tour is their dedication to Indie Authors of Speculative Literature and their ability to find authors who are telling stories in Fantasy which intrigue me to read. Fantasy has been a challenging genre for me to explore even a bit moreso than Science Fiction – which is why I feel blessed to be on their blogger team. Whilst some of their tours I might seek out a book to consider for review, I also actively enjoy hosting creative content using book photography and/or featuring their authors in conversation (ie. interviews) or giving them the breadth of joy to write a guest post based on a topic of my choosing. Overall, Storytellers on Tour are dedicated to creating community and for championing those of us who are choosing to share our readerly lives each day we bring content to our book blogs. 

I received a complimentary copy of “The End of Dreams” direct from the author Marcus Lee in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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My thoughts on behalf of “Tristan’s Folly”:

At the heart of the series is the love story of Maya and Taran – of how they found each other and how their love grew out of the battle to survive the oppressive overreach of Daleth. Theirs is a romance that is rooted out of their relationship having a strong foundation of friendship and the mutual respect they each shared for the others’ gift. Without each other by their side, I am quite sure they would not have survived as long as they have now as they have a way of renewing each others’ strength as much as they are the truer compliment of each other as well. You cannot help grieve alongside them when their fears and anxieties about the prospects of their future are revealled – of the checks and balances they undertake to better recognise their advantages and disadvantages to re-engage in war with Daleth and yet, find small measures of joy in renewing their affirmed love for each other as well. The ways in which Lee has presented their relationship’s growth throughout this sequel re-affirms why this series seeks to redirect the reader off the war itself and re-align the reader’s eye on the more important aspects of what life is meant to give everyone. It isn’t about conquest or war nor is it about the rise of power – there is a unifying will to seek out one singular part of our lives which redefines the purpose of all men (and women) and truly illuminates our purpose through the strongest light possible.

Yana’s efforts to insurrect her own footing into the confidences of those round her was a bit discomforting knowing that her intentions were without honour. She could have given more to their cause if she hadn’t turnt her back on what a more just person might have pursued. Her mind was stuck on one particular goal and whatever came next paled in her original plans to overturn a relationship she had no right to interfere against. It spoke to her truer nature and of how she never set out to establish her own path to walk. She was constantly conniving her way into measures of confidence and trust with those round her and yet, part of me questioned how she could ever find true happiness if her happiness was completely tethered to the destruction of joy in others.

The greater crust of the story is about the battles themselves – the art of warfare and of how those who fought for either Daleth or Tristan had to choose their actions wisely against the intelligence of their enemies. Neither side would admit defeat and both sides felt they had the upper hand against each other – to more or less extent, this was true but the greater issue is what this world would yield once the battles concluded. What could be left of a world where everyone was pitted against each other and where those in power had their own agendas to see through which contradicted the reasons why the men and women fought in this war?

The hardest part of the story of course are the attacks of conscience of the players in this war whom are not below undermining others free will in order to gain something themselves. They seek to take what they feel is rightly theirs when in reality, it never was theirs at all. This plays out continuously as two persons in this story are content to pine after what they cannot have and then in the end, choose to take what cannot be given freely. It is this under-thread of deceit which has the greatest power to change the course of the souls in the series because of how much their survival is connected to the war itself. Each battle won is a small step forward towards the freedom of the world and yet, some battles are not on the battlefield but held in closed quarters where people bank against their own soul for the prize they desire moreso than the life they breathe.

-quoted from my review of Tristan’s Folly

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On my connection to Marcus Lee: I first crossed paths with Lee during the blog tour for Kings & Daemons in August 2020. Being fellow writers and voracious readers – it felt like a natural extension of the first blog tour, we would have something to talk about together about this world being built within the series of the Gifted and the Cursed as well as outside of the series itself. We continued to ‘chat’ privately after the blog tour and then, shortly before the start of the second we reconnected finding we’re both at different junctions of our writerly careers. However, I withheld discussing my thoughts about the sequel until my review for the second blog tour was released.

I am disclosing this, to assure you that I can formulate an honest opinion, even though I have interacted with Lee through our respective joy in being writers as well as enjoying discussing the merits of Speculative Fiction as it applies to Dark Fantasy. I treat each book as a ‘new experience’, whether I personally know the author OR whether I am reading a book by them for the first time or continuing to read their releases as they are available. This also applies to hosting a guest feature by the author I share a connection.

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Notation on Cover Art: I am simply in love with the cover art for this book series –

#EnterTheFantastic | Enter the realms of “The Gifted and the Cursed” – in the conclusion of the trilogy “The End of Dreams” by Marcus LeeThe End of Dreams
Subtitle: The Gifted and the Cursed (Book Three)
by Marcus Lee
Source: Author via Storytellers on Tour

As Daleth the Witch-King and his horde ready themselves for the final battle, a small alliance prepares for a desperate last stand.
However, the alliance is weak and fractured, led by a king interested only in retaining his wealth and a lord commander consumed by his thirst for revenge. With a seemingly unbeatable army before them, invisible foes amongst them, and broken hearts between them, the alliance appears destined to fall.

Yet in these dark times, her light almost extinguished, a peasant huntress is soon to be queen. But if she can find what was lost, she might prove to be more powerful than two kings combined.

This war will bring about the end of dreams, but for whom, the gods have yet to decide.

Genres: Cosy Horror, Dark Fantasy, Epic Fantasy, Fantasy Fiction, High Fantasy, Sword and Sorcery



Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 979-8598984192

Also by this author: Kings and Daemons, Tristan's Folly

Also in this series: Kings and Daemons, Tristan's Folly


Published by Self Published

on 23rd January, 2021

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 400

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The Gifted and the Cursed Trilogy:

Kings and Daemons by Marcus LeeTristan's Folly by Marcus LeeThe End of Dreams by Marcus Lee

Kings & Daemons (book one) | see also Review

Tristan’s Folly (book two) | see also Review

The End of Dreams (book three)

This is a Self-Published novel and series!

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

About Marcus Lee

Writing hasn’t always been a serious hobby for me … but it has always been there, lurking in the shadows, serving me well when called upon.

As I look back over the years, I realise I was guilty of writing many short stories, as well as poetry, and I’d like to think, that even if they were never intended to be published, they were nonetheless warmly received by the intended recipients.

Then in 2019, I was inspired to write not just a short story, or poetry, but a book. Then, suddenly, one book turned into a trilogy and a labour of love, and it was a love I wanted to share with the world.

So, here we are. The pandemic that put my career in sport on hold also gave me the opportunity to lavish time on my alternative hobby, or if demand dictates my new career.

However, only you, the reader, will decide whether this trilogy, which is still a work in progress, will be the first of many. I genuinely hope so.

Who knows, now these creatives juices are flowing, I might just keep on writing anyway.

Epic fantasy has been my favourite genre since I first read The Odyssey and The Illiad as a seven-year-old. Now it’s my turn to see if I can bring another world to life in the imagination of others.

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • #EnterTheFantastic
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Posted Wednesday, 3 March, 2021 by jorielov in #EnterTheFantastic, ArchDemons or Demonic Entities, Blog Tour Host, Content Note, Cosy Horror, Dark Arts (Dark Magic), Dark Fantasy, Excessive Violence in Literature, Fantasy Fiction, Fly in the Ointment, High Fantasy, Horror-Lite, Immortals, Indie Author, Self-Published Author, Storytellers on Tour, Supernatural Creatures & Beings, Sword & Scorcery

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