Family of the Tri-Rune Blog Tour

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen

Legends of Windemere: Family of the Tri-Rune has Arrived!!!

Buy it Here for $2.99!

Book Blurb:

The magical adventure continues after Luke Callindor and his friends recover from their battles in Haven.

Nyx still has nightmares about casting the genocide spell in Hero’s Gate. Every night her heart is gripped by the sensation of hundreds of goblins dying by her magic. By the request of Lord Highrider and Duke Solomon, she is returning to fix the damage she caused. With Luke Callindor and Sari by her side, Nyx is ready to face the vengeful goblins and opportunistic thieves that plague Hero’s Gate. Yet, there is a darker threat that was born from her violated magic: The Krypters.

It is another action-packed, character driven story that will reveal one of our heroes has been lied to for their entire life.

Wondering what you’re in for? Check out the praise earned by the first three installments of this high fantasy series.

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen

Review Excerpts for Legends of Windemere: Beginning of a Hero:

“I greatly enjoyed the vivid characters, the gripping plot, and the refreshingly unique writing style (present tense). ” – kdillmanjones

“One of the things that won me over was the bouts of humor. Especially in the beginning. “This is not possible! I am a Paladin!” I thought I was going to die with delight.” – C.N. Faust

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen

Review Excerpts for Legends of Windemere: Prodigy of Rainbow Tower:

“Nyx is such a strong personality. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know her and more of the other characters, new and already known, with the rich tapestry of Windemere unfolding in between intense actions scenes and moments of kindness and budding friendships.” – Danielle Taylor

“Almost like the Harry Potter series. The books start out so young and innocent, but by the last book – watch out!” — Momto4Booklover

Cover by Jason Pedersen

Cover by Jason Pedersen

Review Excerpts for Legends of Windemere: Allure of the Gypsies:

“One of the things I love most about this series are all the characters! They are developed so well that I feel like I know them personally. Even the newly introduced characters fit in immediately.” – BarbBookWorm

“Let’s talk about action. The author creates interesting action sequences with believable use of fantasy elements. He is very creative. There are also good sections where the characters stretch out and we get to know them better.” – Donald L. Mitchell “Music Lover”

Charles author photo B&WAuthor Biography:

Charles Yallowitz was born and raised on Long Island, NY, but he has spent most of his life wandering his own imagination in a blissful haze. Occasionally, he would return from this world for the necessities such as food, showers, and Saturday morning cartoons. One day he returned from his imagination and decided he would share his stories with the world. After his wife decided that she was tired of hearing the same stories repeatedly, she convinced him that it would make more sense to follow his dream of being a fantasy author. So, locked within the house under orders to shut up and get to work, Charles brings you Legends of Windemere. He looks forward to sharing all of his stories with you and his wife is happy he finally has someone else to play with.

Contact:

Blog- www.legendsofwindemere.com

Twitter- @cyallowitz

Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/CharlesYallowitz

Journey to Rainbow Island by Christie Hsiao

Journey to Rainbow IslandNew York Times Bestseller

Yu-ning thinks her perfect life on Rainbow Island will never end—until a nasty dragon called the Obsidigon returns from beyond the grave. Now her beloved island is in flames, her best friend has been kidnapped, and the island’s Sacred Crystals have been stolen. To make matters worse, she must venture into the dark corners of the world to uncover secrets best ignored, find a weapon thought long destroyed, and recapture seven sacred stones—without being burned to a crisp by a very angry dragon.

With the help of her master teacher, Metatron, Yu-ning embarks on a dangerous journey to overcome not only the darkness attacking her home, but also the scars of sadness that mark her own heart. And while most people just see a normal kid, Metatron—and a few other unlikely allies—pledge their lives to the dark-eyed little girl with a magic bow and a crooked grin.Journey to Rainbow Island by Christie Hsiao

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In the beginning I was on the fence a bit about this book. There are some truly beautiful passages, even within the first couple of chapters, but I didn’t feel that I got to know much about the main character immediately. This prevented me from being able to care about her early on in the story.

As things went on, I found I was surprised by how lighthearted this story is. There is darkness to be fought, but the overall sense of love and peace and equality does not ever fully leave the reader. I thought this was a nice change, especially in fantasy.

This book is a difficult one to place in an age appropriate category. It seems too young and not complicated enough for many adult readers, but a bit longer and deals with deeper subjects than one would expect for a very young audience. I think it will depend on the maturity of the reader and their dedication to the act of reading to decide how they will feel about this work.

Here’s what I really liked:

This author has a strong talent for world building. Her land is filled with magic and wonderful description that puts the reader right there in the scene. She is also very creative and I liked the way she passed from subject to subject with a smooth flow of words and actions.

The book is never boring and the dialogue keeps the reader engaged and understanding the thought processes of the various characters.

There is a lot of emotion in this work and the views of the author on serenity, human relationships and peace are clear in her writing. I enjoyed the interaction between the characters and appreciated the time she spent in creating them. I would have liked to have seen more personal thoughts and history on the main character.

Would I recommend this book? Yes–to certain audiences as mentioned above. I would encourage parents to give this book a read with their children. There will be a lot to provoke discussion as you read.

Overall I thought this was a well-written work with many interesting factors. I like this author’s writing-style and look forward to more of her works.

This review is based on a complimentary copy. All opinions are my own and no other compensation was received.

Legends of Windemere: Family of the Tri-Rune Cover Reveal

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen

Legends of Windemere: Family of the Tri-Rune is set to debut on Sunday, March 16th!!!

The magical adventure continues after Luke Callindor and his friends recover from their battles in Haven.

Nyx still has nightmares about casting the genocide spell in Hero’s Gate. Every night her heart is gripped by the sensation of hundreds of goblins dying by her magic. By the request of Lord Highrider and Duke Solomon, she is returning to fix the damage she caused. With Luke Callindor and Sari by her side, Nyx is ready to face the vengeful goblins and opportunistic thieves that plague Hero’s Gate. Yet, there is a darker threat that was born from her violated magic: The Krypters.

It is another action-packed, character driven story that will reveal one of our heroes has been lied to for their entire life.

About the Author:

Charles author photo B&WCharles Yallowitz was born and raised on Long Island, NY, but he has spent most of his life wandering his own imagination in a blissful haze. Occasionally, he would return from this world for the necessities such as food, showers, and Saturday morning cartoons. One day he returned from his imagination and decided he would share his stories with the world. After his wife decided that she was tired of hearing the same stories repeatedly, she convinced him that it would make more sense to follow his dream of being a fantasy author. So, locked within the house under orders to shut up and get to work, Charles brings you Legends of Windemere. He looks forward to sharing all of his stories with you and his wife is happy he finally has someone else to play with.

Blog: Legends of Windemere
Twitter: @cyallowitz
Facebook: Charles Yallowitz

We’re still taking volunteers for the April blog tour. So fill out the form HERE!

Read the Previous Volumes of Legends of Windemere!!!

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen

Cover by Jason Pedersen

Cover by Jason Pedersen

Well, Hurry up then!

Legends of Windemere: Beginning of a Hero is

Free!

for the remainder of the day. If you haven’t secured your copy yet, then hurry up and go get it.

Follow this linky thingy :

http://www.amazon.com/Beginning-Hero-Legends-Windemere-ebook/dp/B00BL9GBU2/

wattpad-beginning

And also check out the rest of the series, so far…

Cover art by Jason Pedersen

Cover art by Jason Pedersen

By Jason Pedersen

By Jason Pedersen

The Path of Daggers by Robert Jordan

The Path of Daggers (Wheel of Time)The Path of Daggers by Robert Jordan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“The Path of Daggers” is the 8th book in the highly regarded “Wheel of time series” by Robert Jordan. I heard a lot about this book before I decided to read it, and I have to say, after actually reading it, I agree with both camps.

The book itself is lovely. The cover is great, (Trade paperback edition released Nov. 2013) and it is a beautiful book to hold and enjoy. (I tend to forget how wonderful real pages can be now that I read digital copies so often.)

Just when you think there cannot be any further possibilities for a cliffhanger that goes unresolved, Robert Jordan surprises us again. I will warn those of you who were hoping for a resolution to the cliffhanger at the end of book seven…you won’t get much resolution and there are even more unresolved events born in this book. Thankfully, since this book was originally published the next few books are also available, so you won’t have to wait forever for that resolution to come.

There is a lot going on between these covers :)Yet, nothing really happens. I know that is a stark contradiction, but it is true. This book is mostly set up for the next few books.

The writing is good, but there is a lot of dialogue and character thought to wade through. This is definitely not the book you want to choose as an introduction to this series, although if you have been following from the beginning, the way Jordan handled this will not be much of a surprise.

If you are a devoted fan of Rand, you may want to prepare yourself for the image destruction in this novel. Whilst the previous stories were setting him up for this change in personality, this one really displays what has taken hold of him. Personally, I was happy to see the author continue on with his initial unspoken promise that people would change, events would unfold and nothing would be the same as it was in the first book.

I do have to say, the female characters in this book are brutal and merciless. I was actually a little surprised that the males in the book are painted as being less hostile and more even tempered than the females.

Overall, this was a good addition to the series and ties together the previous books and the next books in the series fluidly. I was impressed that the characters did not behave exactly as I would have expected–nice to know there are still surprises to be had in such a long series.

I think if you are a devoted Jordan fan, you will want to add this to your collection, although it is not the most exciting book in the series in the way of action scenes.

This review is based on a print copy from Goodreads Firstreads. All opinions are my own.

View all my reviews

Celebrate 1 Year of Legends of Windemere: Beginning of a Hero

Cover art by Jason Pedersen

Cover art by Jason Pedersen

Want to win some free books or a $10 Amazon Giftcard?

Check out the Beginning of a Hero Raffle HERE!

You can win 1 of over 30 prizes simply by earning entries with Twitter and Facebook follows!

This epic contest goes until the end of February!

So join in the fun and spread the word!

Blog Tour: Allure of the Gypsies by Charles E. Yallowitz

By Jason Pedersen

By Jason Pedersen

New Year is here! New Year is here!
So let’s all head to Windemere!
Grab a drite and dance a jig
no matter if you’re small (Charles)
or big…

The final day of this blog tour,
in case you haven’t heard of “Allure”
Check out the links provided below
and while your at it tell those you know

The third book in the series is out
so find out what the buzz is about
take a half-elf by the hand
and dance away to the gypsy band

Make a tweet and spread the news
hit facebook (support our Jew)
I mean…
Hit Facebook and reblog too

If he hasn’t killed me yet,
this next year is a sure bet
But I do the best I can,
for Luke and Nyx and the author man….

Happy New year peeps! Check out Legends of Windemere author Charles E. Yallowitz

Here

And check out his books, and in particular “Allure of the Gypsies”

HERE

An interview with Charles E. Yallowitz (Legends of Windemere)

By Jason Pedersen

By Jason Pedersen

I am very proud to welcome my favourite author and fellow blogger Charles E. Yallowitz to Readful Things today to discuss his career as an author. Please give him a welcome and a pat on the back, he is the hardest working author I know.

BUY THEM HERE

Each one will feed a starving writer in New York….

 What has been the hardest and most unexpected part of your journey as an indie author thus far?

The level and scope of marketing caught me by surprise. I had been told that I would have to do my own marketing, so I started my blog. Soon after I started, I realized I had to spread out to other social media sites and look for promo sites to work with. At the beginning I was thinking I would never need Twitter or find much use for Facebook, but now I promote on them every day. This aspect of being an indie author has required a lot of time and patience to figure out the nuances of all the sites. It helps to use my blog as a center for the other social media sites because my posts end up on every platform, which keeps me active. Being active on the sites is certainly one of the keys to success as an indie author.

Has your perception of what a self-published author does changed since you have begun publishing the Windemere series?

I can barely remember what my initial impression was, which means my perception is entirely different. I knew it was going to be a lot of work as a self-published author, but I never realized how much I would have to put myself out there. Growing up, I had the image that an author spent more time writing their next book than doing marketing. This might be true for traditionally published authors, but a self-published author needs to spend a few hours every day interacting with others. This creates exposure and reveals that there’s a human being behind the books. You’re no longer a name within the self-published pack, but a known entity with a personality.

What is the most important piece of advice you have received about writing or publishing so far?

The most important piece of advice is kind of a combination. I’ve been told to keep writing and keep evolving. I messed up the second part when I was younger and mistook accepting all advice as evolving. So, I would tell other authors to add ‘stay true to your own style’ in there because that’s where you will get your best work from.

If you could steal any character from any book, movie, or TV show and make them your own, who would it be and why?

This is an answer that will be different tomorrow depending on what I watch or read today. For now, I would love to claim Halt from The Ranger’s Apprentice series. He’s a mentor character with a great combination of wisdom, cunning, and wit. The evolution of his character is entertaining because he grows alongside the main character instead of staying the same like other mentor characters.

Tell us a bit about your current WIP.

My big project is Legends of Windemere, which is going to be a 15 book series. So, I’m trying to keep working on it and avoid lengthy delays. This is a tale of adventure, which follows a group of adventurers who are pitted against an ancient evil that is trying to return to the world of Windemere. Much of the story involves them coming to terms with their roles and dealing with the pressure of being a destined champion. One of my big goals with Legends of Windemere is to create colorful characters that people can connect to and enjoy following. This series is also going to be the foundation of the future Windemere series that I gradually outline and think about on the weekends.

You made the decision to keep your Windemere series exclusive to Amazon. Has this been an advantage or a hindrance and why?

I started with Legends of Windemere: Beginning of a Hero on all mediums and I wasn’t selling beyond Amazon. I tried marketing for them and nothing seemed to click. So, I haven’t lost much by going Amazon exclusive and I gain the advantages of the KDP Select program. I have received a few requests to put my books on the other sites, but only by about five people, which isn’t enough for me to want to leave the exclusivity. Now, this is only my personal experience and I’m not saying this is how it always goes. For any first-time authors, I would recommend trying the other sites at first. It never hurts to try and gain a foothold on the other mediums because you can always go exclusive at a later date.

What does your writing process involve when you begin a new book? Do you keep strict outlines or do you just go with whatever is in your head at that moment?

I’m a big planner, so I start with designing basic plots and writing up character profiles. This is where a lot of my subplots and character evolution paths come from. After that, I plan out the chapters of a book with general descriptions to give myself a section goal. For series, I may do this for all of the books or the first few before I begin writing. This helps me set up foreshadowing and keeping my series goal in mind. Once I start writing, I find that about half of what I planned gets altered to fit the characters and my style. Many times I’ll find that I should merge chapter sections, remove others, or add a scene that would clear up a plot hole. I’m always aware that things will change when I begin the actual writing. For example, the character of Kira Grasdon from Legends of Windemere never existed in the original outline or the first version of the story. Now, she’s one of the biggest supporting cast members and will play a big role in a few of the books.

What do you see happening in the future of books? Will Ebooks ever take over and if so will indie authors benefit from this or will it hurt them?

I don’t think Ebooks will ever take over because there will always be a place for paperback and hardcovers. If anything, I can see Ebooks gaining equal amounts of respect and viability as the other mediums. While they are portable, there are advantages to physical books such as not needing to be charged or a corrupted file wiping them out. From experience, I can tell you that a physical book can be a precious thing when dealing with a long power outage.
I don’t think an Ebook takeover would change the indie author game. Many of us already depend more on Ebook than physical books, so it’s more about an author gaining exposure than the medium. It would be business as usual for us.

Where can we find your books available?

All of my books are available on Amazon in both Ebook and paperback form.

http://www.amazon.com/Beginning-Legends-Windemere-Charles-Yallowitz-ebook/dp/B00BL9GBU2/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1387324756&sr=8-1&keywords=legends+of+windemere

To anyone who is thinking about self-publishing a book, I would recommend blogging and making friends with other authors. Contrary to popular belief, the world of indie authors is more of a community than a competition. Indie authors can draw a lot of confidence from positive support, which can be found from those that are attempting to do the same as you. This is because they understand what you’re trying to accomplish and all of the hard work you’re putting into your book. This is certainly one of the best discoveries I made as an indie author because I feel like I’m not alone in this.

A Series that is so much fun! Nogglestones

Earlier this year I had the privilege of being introduced to the book series “Noggle Stones,” by Wil Radcliffe If you are searching for books that are appropriate for a bit younger audience but still entertaining enough for an older audience, this is the way to go. Below you will find further information about this series including the first two chapters and some great links where you can find fun stuff to do. Trust me–you wanna!

Helping me spread the word is not required but always greatly appreciated. ♥

http://www.nogglestones.com
Book I at Amazon
http://www.amazon.com/Noggle-Stones-Book-Goblins-Apprentice/dp/0615787088

Book 1 1/2 at Amazon
http://www.amazon.com/Noggle-Stones-Book-Bugbears-Travels/dp/0615894909

Book II at Amazon
http://www.amazon.com/Noggle-Stones-Book-II-Tragic/dp/0615810357

The Noggle Stones Role-Playing Game
http://www.sanguinegames.com/2013/01/09/turn-of-the-century-adventure-awaits


-you-with-noggle-stones/

The Noggle Stones Archery Line at 3RiversArchery.com
www.3riversarchery.com/webspecials.asp?list=mfg&mfgid=59

Also available at Barnes & Noble

Here are the first two chapters:

From my flesh I make this scroll.
I draw ink from veins that bleed.
With my heart I craft these words;
I’m this book that you now read

In darkness I walk in circles.
In circles I walk forlorn.
Yet in you I live forever.
For when you read, I am reborn.
(Unknown goblin author, Age of the Bending Oak)

CHAPTER 1

GOBLINS AND GAMES

The bee danced within its glass jar prison, and the embers in the fire died to dull orange and gray. Bugbear, the keeper of goblin wisdom and culture, pulled his blanket about him and drew in his arms and legs, huddling into a ball on the forest floor. He considered warming himself with a cup of banderberry root tea, but the fire was far too low. Tudmire would need to return with firewood soon or there would be no fire left to rekindle.

Now, sleep tugged at his heavy head. Sleep. Dreaded sleep. Where the dreams were alive and angry. Where faces danced before him, mouths pulled into screams and eyes wet with tears. The dreams… oh, how they had tormented him. Dark visions clouding his mind. Sinister whispers filling his ears. Unspeakable terrors clotting his blood.

And yet it was the dreams that inspired him to search for the lost ruins of Whittlegrip’s monastery. It was the dreams that sent him on his scholarly journey into the study of Non-Logical Thought.

And it was the dreams that had brought him here, huddled in the forest at night before a dying fire, a bee in a jar his only companion. The dreams… how he craved them and how he loathed them. The inspiration they granted, and the terror they inflicted. He wanted to deny them… to evict the torment from his head. Yet they always came, like unwanted dinner guests with dreadful eating habits.

As the bee’s buzzing drilled into his head, fitful slumber fell upon him, like an assassin, killing him a thousand times. Dark shapes slithered and slunk. Evil voices bellowed and shrieked. He wandered alone in a world of gray, a colorless landscape stretching to the limits of his sight. In the sky above, images formed… dim and dreary like drawings etched in mud. He saw an archer, drawing her bow against an unseen foe. And he saw an animal, loping along upright like a goblin. And he saw something even stranger… a monstrous face, obscure and unclear, yet somehow important… somehow burnt into his skull. This image forced Bugbear’s dreaming mind to recall an illustration of an odd and forgotten race he had seen in one of his books of ancient lore. They were called humans, and a more ridiculous myth he had seldom studied. The three images then turned to him and pointed, speaking as one: “You should wake up. The game has begun.”

With a gasp and a shudder, Bugbear found himself awake. The fire was rekindled, and Tudmire had returned… with three unexpected guests. Large people. Ten feet tall. Pale purple skin. Big warty ears. Small red eyes. Long spotty noses. Ogres.

Tudmire crouched with them before a Noggle Stones board, moving pieces here and there. The ogres watched on with dumb amusement, a bag of copper coins on the ground beside them.
“Gambling,” Bugbear hissed.

Bugbear threw his blanket aside, tucked the bee jar into his coat-of-many-pockets, and stormed over to his cousin. “Tudmire!” he barked. “I sent you for fuel, not for fools!”
Tudmire turned back to Bugbear and waved him off. “Shush, you mouthy mouse! I’m about to win!” And with a surprisingly nimble movement of his thick fingers, Tudmire slid his three white stones over the opposing black stone.

“Ha!” he blurted. “I’m the Noggle Lord!” He stood and danced about the bewildered ogres and the grumbling Bugbear. His voice reached high into the night, filling the air with echoes of laughter and gloating. Then he stopped before the ogres, holding out his hand and smiling with all the teeth he could muster. “My winnings, if you please!”

The ogres shrugged as one. The largest passed the bag and a yellowed scroll over to Tudmire. “Goodly gamings, little gobling,” he said with a smile. “Thanks you for the invitings.”
Tudmire swept into a deep bow before the ogres. “My pleasure! Unlike some goblins, I appreciate and enjoy the company of ogres!” As Tudmire rose, several black, white, and gray stones tumbled out of his sleeves. He stood for a moment in the light of the campfire, sheepish and uncertain.
The red eyes of the ogres fell upon the pile of stones. Slowly the dim light of realization swept over them and their faces turned from masks of confusion to reflections of rage.
“Cheaterings!” the largest blurted as he overturned the board and sent stones showering into the air.
“Cheaterings!” the other two shouted.

“Smasherings!” the largest yelled as he advanced on the trembling Tudmire.
“Run, you fool!” Bugbear commanded as he took Tudmire by the hand and pulled him off into the thick tangles of brush. Pockets and paths unfolded before them, as Bugbear imagined they might. For he had placed his mind in a Non-Logical state where possibilities in thought could become truth in reality. And so they scurried, scampered, and scrambled, the green things opening before them and closing behind them.

Until finally, his thoughts exhausted, Bugbear collapsed in a worn-out heap. Tudmire squatted down beside him as the leaves and branches covered them in a canopy.

“Cheating at Noggle Stones, Tudmire?” Bugbear huffed at his cousin. “Did you really think you could slip extra stones on the board without being noticed? Honestly! If you were going to cheat, you could have at least been more original and less obvious about it.”

“Cousin,” Tudmire began, “they’re bloody ogres. How was I supposed to know they’d gather enough wits to see through my… uhm… misinterpretation of the rules?”

Hoarse voices thundered behind the goblins. Oak trees groaned and splintered as the ogres rampaged through the night. Nocturnal animals scurried, fluttered, and slithered from the chaos. Even the moon and stars seemed to take shelter behind the heavy gray clouds.

“Where for you going with our treasures, little goblings?” one brute yelled. “You been taking advantage of our good natures with your trickeries!”

Bugbear brushed a few branches aside to peer into the gloom. He could see the silhouetted ogres, savaging the forest with their tantrums. Slender fingers of fear began prickety-pick-picking at his brain. Out there in those huge callused hands death waited. He shook his head and exchanged his fear for fury.

“Gambling with ogres anyway,” he hissed. “What were you thinking?” He turned back to his cousin and squatted into hiding. “They didn’t even have anything of value… just a few coppers and a tattered, old parchment.”

Tudmire pulled the bag of winnings close to his chest. “You don’t understand gambling. It’s not what you win, it’s that you win.”

“Maybe I don’t understand gambling, but I do understand dismemberment. And so do those thugs out there.”

The goblins glared at each other, each shifting in place with aggravation. For being cousins they presented a striking contrast. Bugbear wore the clothes of a gentleman… cleanly pressed olive colored coat, spotless white shirt, bright plaid vest, matching olive breeches, and buckled brown shoes, whereas Tudmire wore a stained gray shirt, fraying suspenders, dusty brown breeches with patches at the knees, and scuffed black shoes. Even their hairstyles were as different as right and wrong… Bugbear’s a frazzled tangle of thick brown from the top of his head all the way to the unruly mutton chops which sprouted from his cheeks… and Tudmire’s a wispy clump of haphazard strands combed over the top of his head to hide an ever expanding baldness.

“You never listen to me,” Bugbear said as the confrontation continued. “And now see what comes of it!”
“Angry you making us!” another ogre shouted. “Your bones we be crushering for these flustrations!”
Bugbear snatched the parchment from Tudmire’s hand. “We’ll give them back their things, apologize, and get out of this with skins intact.”

Tudmire protested, trying to snatch the parchment back. “It’s my property. After all, I cheated them fair and square.”

Bugbear’s leathery skin crinkled into a mass of angry wrinkles and his eyes widened into bloodshot saucers. Even in the gloom of the night, his face lit with his rage. He shook the parchment before Tudmire. “Listen, they’ll have their valuables back whether we hand them over now, or they pry them from our dead hands. We’re barely a fourth their size, Tudmire. We don’t stand a chance against them unless we use reason.”

Tudmire continued to flail and grab at Bugbear, trying to wrest his ill-gotten treasures from his cousin’s keeping. “Reason is for those who lose the game. Winners get the loot!”

While Tudmire tugged and tore at Bugbear, a small object slipped from his vest and fell to the forest floor. It was nothing special, or magical, or profound in any way. It was but a simple tin, unmarked and unadorned. And yet when it skittered to the ground Bugbear’s eyes exploded like sparks in the Devil’s furnace. “My medicine!” he gasped as he fell to his knees and carefully lifted the dull tin. “It’s the only thing that keeps the dreams away,” he practically sobbed. Carefully he slid the tin back into his pocket, licking his lips and closing his eyes as if in some starving man’s trance. As he did so, the parchment fell from his grasp. It unrolled at his feet, unleashing such an unnatural and brilliant light that the goblins fell back as though struck by a thunderbolt.

“What did you do?” Tudmire yelped. “The ogres are certain to see that!”

“I didn’t do anything,” Bugbear gasped. “The parchment… it has some kind of peculiar luminous quality.”

“You mean it’s magic?” Tudmire said.

“No. I’ve told you before, magic is a foolish superstition. Like Snaggy Mary Tittle-Top, or human beings.”

“But Grand Uncle Crick says…”

“Grand Uncle Crick is a dear old soul,” Bugbear interrupted, “but he lives in the past. This is the Year of the Dappled Beetle in the Age of the Unstrung Harp. We live in modern times. With modern sensibilities. Science rules, magic fools!”

Bugbear picked at the scroll with dainty, uncertain fingers, until, with a sudden rush of conviction he pinched the vellum at a corner and lifted it. “No. This is a purely scientific phenomenon,” he said, examining the strange paper. “Perhaps it would be hasty to turn it back over to the ogres just yet. After all, as I was appointed Bugbear by the High Council of Ysgol Gwybod, it is my duty to expand and improve upon goblin culture and knowledge.”

“There you go flaunting that fancy Bugbear title of yours again,” Tudmire snorted. His baggy face then perked with curiosity. “What are all those squiggly lines there?”

“That would be writing, you dullard,” Bugbear said, with a dismissing wave of his hand. “Although, I’m not certain what language. It has a structure similar to dwarfish, but less harsh. More fluid, like elfish in many ways. But then again it has a goblin-like boldness to it as well. Given time perhaps I could…”

“Die, you thieverous little greaselings!” The three ogres ripped the brush away from the goblins, exposing them in the dull moonlight. Two of the brutes reached down with ham-like hands, grabbed the stunned cousins by the scruffs of their necks, and hoisted them into the air. The third hissed at them,

“Your little feets carries you far from us, and you hides well behind your things of green. But we sees the big flashings and lightnings! And you speaks all too loudish!” The fiend snatched the now unlit scroll from Bugbear’s grasp. “Be giving us the rest of our belongings! Else we crushes your bones evers so slowly and not nearly so fastly.”

“Oh, you festering fool!” Bugbear yelled at his cousin. “Now we’re done for, thanks to your grubbering greed!” He twisted and turned in the ogre’s grasp, trying to reach Tudmire with his wild slaps and punches.

“Shut your bloody gob!” Tudmire countered. “If you hadn’t been wasting our bloody time with that bloody scrap of bloody paper, we wouldn’t have been bloody surprised, you bloody twit!”

“Oh, blame me!” Bugbear said. “Blame me! At least I was interested in scholarship rather than dollarship! That’s something worth dying for, I’ll tell you!”

“There’s no profit in death!” Tudmire yelled. “Unless it’s yours!”

“I doesn’t know, Loomis,” one ogre said to his leader. “Maybe we be saving us troubles if we lets these goblings killing each another for us.”

“They does seem to have a powerful hateness for each one of the other, Nigel” Loomis remarked. “But they is goblings, and goblings is filled of trickeries. We kill them ourselfs, to be safety. But firstly we best be collectoring our thingies post hastal, boys. We doesn’t wants gobling bloodieness all over its. You shakes them and I’ll sortify what falls loosely from them.”

“Did you hear that?” Tudmire whined. “They’re going to shake us clean and kill us!”

“Yes,” Bugbear said. “I tried to warn you. Ogres tend to do things like that.”

The ogres turned their prisoners heads-over-toes, and the shaking commenced. From Bugbear’s oversized coat pockets dropped all manner of books, papers, gadgets, contraptions, odds, and ends. Calculations, journals, experiments… delicate pieces of a scholarly puzzle he had studied for years, now lay scattered upon the forest floor. His saucer eyes doubled in size, for even he was amazed at the volume of items he had gathered, and even more amazed that his stunted little body was capable of carrying it about all this time.

“Blimey, Loomis!” the third ogre gasped. “This little feller has more ownings than a museum!”

“Right you be, Dubbin,” Loomis said. He rummaged through Bugbear’s belongings. “But they is mostly worthless things.”

“I beg your pardon?” Bugbear said. “You just happen to be looking at a lifetime of scholarly study!”

“Well, if this is all you gots to be showing for it,” Loomis laughed while holding up the bee in a glass jar,

“then I says you been wasting yourself a lifetime.”

“Do not mock me!” Bugbear exclaimed, a rage boiling through his veins. “You cannot even begin to understand the importance of my work!”

Loomis picked up a small tin, opened it, and fingered through a fine powder. “And where in do you finding the impotence of this?”

“That is my medicine. Nothing more!” Bugbear blurted. “You need not concern yourself with it.”
Loomis sniffed and snorted and tasted the powdery stuff. “Not bad. Try some, boys.”

The other two ogres snickered and dropped their stunted prisoners. “You stay putses!” Nigel ordered the goblins. “We be eatings, but we also be watchings!” They gathered about Loomis and picked at the tin.

“Let us be tasting this new pleasure.”

“My tea,” Bugbear whined as he pulled himself from the dirt.
Tudmire crawled to his cousin’s side. “Are you all right?”

“My banderberry root tea,” Bugbear sighed. “They’re eating it.”

Tudmire brushed the pine needles and dust from his clothes. “At least we aren’t dangling upside-down anymore,” he said, slicking back his few strands of hair.
Bugbear gripped his cousin about the shoulders. “I need it, Tudmire. I need my medicine. I don’t think I can endure another dream.”

Fear seized Bugbear. Oh, how he dreaded seeing those wretched, alien creatures again. The dreams… the nightmares… only the tea had staved them off. It was Duergar, the village gardener, who had told Bugbear of the healing properties of the banderberry root. But now Duergar’s gift was being devoured by the ogres. And Bugbear’s mind was being devoured by unfettered rage.

“I shall crush the heathens with my bare hands!” Bugbear exclaimed. He lurched forward, veins bulging like willow roots, teeth grinding like millstones. “Lowly, insignificant buffoons!”

“Shush,” Tudmire cautioned as he caught his irate cousin by the coattails. “They’ll hear you.”

“Faugh! Even if they can hear me, they lack the intellect to understand my brilliant oration!”

“Listen, Bugbear,” Tudmire continued in soft, soothing tones. “My dear, dear Bugbear. You aren’t thinking straight. Your mind’s all askew, like a spinning coin that can’t decide which side to land on. Please,” Tudmire said, tugging at Bugbear’s sleeve, “come sit and wait. Maybe when they’re done with your tea, Loomis and his brothers will show a bit of pity and let us go.”

“No,” Bugbear hissed. He stared at the brutes as they feasted on his tea. And from the midst of his disordered mind, a small strand of sanity wormed its way to the surface. “I have a plan.” Bugbear shook Tudmire’s hand from his coat and stepped forward to confront the ogres.

“O’ great merciful Lady Luck!” Tudmire gasped. “The little maniac has a plan!”

As they saw Bugbear approach, the ogres wiped the powder from their mouths. “What be you wanting? We gives no permissions for you to be movementing!”

“I was just wondering if you’d be willing to reconsider…”

“No!” Loomis barked. “Go backs over there and waits to be killt!”

Bugbear turned to Tudmire. “You were right, cousin,” he said. “They aren’t interested in negotiating.

But, I suppose we can at least take consolation in the fact that they’ll never find where we hid theTreasure of Eglwys Cacynen!”

The ogres stared at Bugbear with mouths agape. “What Treasure of… whatever it was you just says?”

“Yes,” Tudmire said, his loose face tightening with delight, “what Treasure of Eglwys Cacynen?”

“Oh, you remember, cousin,” Bugbear continued. “The vast horde of goblin wealth that we hid away before we were captured.”

“We never…”

“Of course you remember. Gold coins. Rubies. Sapphires. Emeralds. And the magical cauldron. Certainly you remember the magical cauldron.”

“Be showing us your gobling treasures,” Loomis demanded. He cast aside the tin of tea as he and the other two ogres lumbered forward.

Bugbear eyed the fallen tin with drooling desire… but then remembered himself and his clever plan.

“Oh, dear,” he sighed. “I’ve given away our secret, cousin. What a fool am I. Can you ever forgive me?”

“Well, I… I… I,” Tudmire stammered.

“Yes, of course you can,” Bugbear continued. “Anyhow, the treasure is right over there.” Bugbear pointed to a hollow log laying alone in a stream of moonlight.

“Be fetching it for us,” Loomis demanded.

“I should say not,” Bugbear said. “Tudmire and I strained our weak little bodies severely enough putting it there. I don’t believe we could handle any more such exertion. No. Moving treasure is an honor reserved for those strong enough to bear it. Goblins are better suited for standing back in awe.”

“Yes,” Loomis agreed. “That making senses. You heard the little gobling, boys. Let’s be bearing our honors.”

Dubbin shambled over to the cousins. “I be watching these maggots. They may still be filled with more trickeries.”

“Good thoughting,” Nigel said.

Loomis and Nigel confronted the log, like cautious, scavenging animals hovering before some unknown carcass.

“Puts your handses in there,” Loomis ordered. “Sees if the gobling is truthful.”

“I tain’t putsing my handses in there!” Nigel balked. “There coulds be nasty anermals in it! Log lizards, and wood winkies, and rot weasels, and such!”

“Bah!” Loomis scoffed. “Baby babble! There be nothings in there to be afraidness of!”

“Then you puts your handses in,” said Nigel.

Loomis’ face curdled with anger. “No! I is the eldest brother! I is the rules maker! And I is making a rule right now! You is putsing your handses in the log to be getting our treasures!”

Nigel grumbled, but as he saw Loomis’ massive hand knotting into a fist, he seemed to rethink his opposition. “Well, seeings as how you’ve mades it a rule and all…”

Nigel wallowed on his stomach as his burly arms reached and clawed and clambered inside the rotting hollow log. “Best be thinkering up some newer rules, boss,” he said. “If there are treasures in there, they ‘tisn’t cooperating with me handses.”

Loomis turned to Bugbear, his tiny eyes glowing red. “Why ‘tisn’t he able to be pulling out the treasures?”

Bugbear shook his head. “Obviously because someone needs to be pushing it to him from the other side.”

“Ah!” Loomis gasped with joyous revelation. “Ah! Very cleverly! Yes! This log shall not be outsmartsing us this day!”

“But it’s night,” Nigel corrected.

“Shuts up with you!” Loomis snapped. “Back to your reachings. I be pushering from the other ending.”
And so Nigel returned to his wallowing and turning and straining, while Loomis mirrored him at the other end of the log. Their legs beat the ground as they toiled against the troublesome log, struggling to retrieve their elusive prize.

“Oh!” Bugbear exclaimed. “Oh, they’re almost there. Yes. Almost. If only someone had the strength to just give them a right good shove. Oh, but where to find such a someone? Where in all this endless woods?”

“I be someone,” Dubbin said.

“Why, yes! Yes you be… uhm… are,” Bugbear replied. “But my question is, are you strong enough to push them far enough in to where they can get the treasure?”

“Bah,” Dubbin answered. “I be winning the Con Courian County skull crackery two years running, I be.” Dubbin pointed to several large bumps atop his head. “Sees them? They’s my trophy lumps. No one cracks their skull as well against hard things as I does. Not even Loomis.”

“Very impressive,” Bugbear said. He addressed Tudmire. “Cousin, I believe we have found our someone.”

Tudmire looked to his cousin with a face all skewered up in confusion.
Bugbear smiled. He liked it when only he knew what he was thinking. “Well then, dear champion, I suggest you get to cracking that skull of yours against your brother’s backside.”

Dubbin nodded like a dumb animal being praised by its master. “Yes. Cracking I will go.” The ogre set himself into a solid, charge-ready stance. His breath pouring from his mouth like smoke from a dwarven furnace, he rubbed his feet into the earth for leverage. And then he charged, his considerable bulk a blur of motion as he rammed his lumpy, distorted head into Nigel’s backside. There was a great splintering of wood, a great movement of earth, and a great howling of ogres.

“Who be shovering his head up me arse?” Nigel bellowed in a muffled rage.

“I be helpering you finding the treasure,” Dubbin groaned, his head wedged inside the log next to his brother’s rear.

“Moronics!” Loomis cursed as he found himself jammed inside the log and up against a tree.

“Ha ha!” Bugbear laughed. “Delightful! Delightful!” Like a drunken acrobat he skipped and danced and pranced his way to Loomis and plucked the scroll from the ogre’s back pocket. “An excellent manipulation of events!”

“Bugbear, you bloody fool!” Tudmire cursed. “With those big oafs wedged into the log, we’ll never be able to get the treasure out!”

Bugbear sighed… sighed in the way that very intelligent folk sigh when confronted with the ranting of very unintelligent folk. “History lesson, cousin.” He sauntered over to his scattered belongings and commenced gathering them. “Eglwys Cacynen was a goblin monastery founded ages ago by the venerable Whittlegrip. Legend has it that this order developed a new philosophy based upon the concepts of Non-Logic. They studied bees in particular.” He held the bee jar aloft and stared at its prisoner with wide-eyed delight. “Bees, cousin. Creatures that defy logic. They fly even though their fat little bodies are disproportionate to their flimsy little wings. The old tales say that Whittlegrip and his monks actually discovered the secret of the bees… how they use a rotating rather than vertical wing motion to stay aloft. From this startling discovery, Whittlegrip developed the four basic precepts of Non-Logical Thought, which can never be repeated enough. Number one: Reality is Thought. Number two: Logic restricts Thought and thus restricts Reality. Number three: Abandon Logic, abandon restriction. And number four: Unrestricted Thought equals unrestricted Reality! It is said that he even performed a series of successful experiments proving these precepts. But then unknown forces rose against the monks and destroyed their ranks. And the knowledge was lost… for a time. But I have taken up the search for this forgotten science! And I am on the verge, dear cousin. Soon I shall rediscover the lost Treasure of Eglwys Cacynen! Do you hear me, Tudmire?” Bugbear found empty air his answer.

“Tudmire?”

Bugbear turned about to see his cousin sitting in a patch of moonlight, picking coppers from the ground.

“Forty-five. Forty-six. Forty-seven…”

“Bah!” Bugbear grumbled, trying to manage his armful of scholarly treasures. A dull metal skittering met one of his footfalls. “Oh dear!” he cried. “My precious tin of tea!” He fell upon the ground, scattering all but his bee jar as he groped blindly through the dark. “Where is it? For the love of sanity, where is it?” His fumbling fingers fell upon the cold metal edges of the tin. “Ah, my medicine!” he sighed. He tucked the jar beneath his arm and ran a finger along the inside of the tin. “Just enough for one dose.” Trembling, he brought the ambrosia-laden finger to his mouth.

From the pile of belongings at Bugbear’s feet, the scroll crackled with luminance once more. And once more Bugbear fell back, scattering his remaining tea to the night winds and shattering his jar upon a rock. The bee was free. “My tea! My bee! My tea! My bee!” the goblin screeched.
Tudmire looked up from his copper collecting. “What’s that you say? Oh! You’ve lit up that paper again, have you? Excellent! I can see more coppers now!” And he returned to his greedy endeavor.
“Tea or bee?” Bugbear muttered to himself. “Tea or bee? Which is the most important? Which shall I search for first? Only time for one! The tea or the bee! The tea or the bee!” His head turned from side to side, like the pendulum of a tightly wound clock.

Suddenly in the unearthly glow, Bugbear caught the flitting flight of a small form. With the grace of an airborne ballerina, the bee settled upon the edge of the scroll. Using great caution and care, Bugbear picked up the arcane parchment, gently lifting the bee to meet his gaze. It perched there, waving its antennae, and looking to him with endless honeycomb eyes. The bee brought its forelegs together, almost as if in prayer. And then the parchment exploded.

Light scattered in every direction. The entire world was engulfed in luminance. Bugbear could feel the earth beneath his feet trembling and shuddering as though it was alive… and very, very afraid.
Wave after wave of golden and white lights lapped over, under, and into each other. The sky thundered with primal force, ripping and re-forming, collapsing and growing. It seemed as though the world was ending. Or perhaps it was just beginning.

“What is all this noising?” Loomis barked from the log. “What mischiefs be you tricksterers confoundering out there?”

“Cousin!” Bugbear yelled as he peered into the blinding white and gold maelstrom, “can you hear me?”

“Yes,” came Tudmire’s timid reply.

“This scroll has done something! I don’t know exactly what, but chances are we won’t live through it! And before we die, I wanted you to know something…”

“What’s that?”

“This is all your fault!”

The lights swirled a few moments more, separated into sparkling grains, and danced away upon the winds. The thunder dwindled into soft, lazy rumbles. And the earth settled once again into its unmoving stance.

Bugbear shook the stupor from his head. Slowly his eyes focused and he again became aware of the forest and the night. The parchment glowed ever so faintly in his hands, and as the bee took to flight, the light died completely. “Whatever it was, it’s over,” Bugbear gasped.

There came a splintering sound. C-c-c-cr-aaaac-c-c-ket! And then there came vengeful voices. “Your trickeries travail you not anymore, little goblings! Soon breaking free we will be!”

Bugbear took up as many of his belongings as he could shovel into his stunted arms. “Tudmire! Enough of this dawdling! We must run!” He scurried into the brush.

Tudmire sprang after his cousin, and soon the goblins were scrambling through the thickets and briars.

“What happened back there?” Tudmire asked.

“I don’t know,” Bugbear admitted. “Some kind of luminous display, I suppose. Maybe a freak electrical storm. Maybe…”

“Maybe it was magic!” Tudmire gasped.

“Again with the magic? Nonsense! All phenomenon have a scientific explanation, Tudmire! This one just takes a bit more thought is all.”

“It’s magic,” Tudmire said.

“I swear if you say that word one more…” Bugbear stopped. He glanced about the forest. “Wait a moment. This isn’t the way to the village.” He looked up to the night sky. “The village is west and…” Bugbear’s words stuck in his throat.

“And what?” Tudmire asked, looking about in confusion.

“By Pappersnap’s toe trimmings! The stars are all out of place!”

“What? That’s ridiculous! Stars don’t just up and bloody move willy-nilly. Unless they’re magic, that is.”
Bugbear felt impossibilities ricocheting through his head. “I can even make out stars that don’t exist! Madness! Madness! We’re lost beyond lost, cousin! Stranded in a strange land!”
The sounds of falling trees and harsh voices shook the goblins to alertness. “We are free, we are! And now you be dead, you be!”

“Time enough for stargazing later!” Tudmire said. He grabbed his cousin by the collar and pulled him into action.

Bugbear ran, as did his thoughts… skimming through a fog, dancing in the twilight, tripping along dusty roads. This was not the world as he knew it. And as he felt the scroll warm and throbbing in his hand, he could not help but think, “Magic?”

Continue reading

Deathsworn: the Last Dragon slayer by Martin Stanley

The Last Dragon Slayer (Deathsworn Arc, #1)The Last Dragon Slayer by Martyn Stanley

There is rumoured to be a noble dragon, an almost mythical beast, long thought to be extinct in Torea – terrorising a village in the north, at the foot of the Sky Cleaver mountains. Saul Karza, Emissary to the Empress and licensed magic user, has been sent by the empress herself to assemble a band of warriors to investigate, and if it is true to vanquish it.
The band of warriors he’d set out to assemble having failed to materialise, he enters the town of Trest with a homeless dwarf, and two sell-swords from the barbarian northlands, who had grown weary of working as labourers at the dock.

It seems logical to seek a fabled dragon slayer, the last known living soul to prevail in battle against a noble dragon, even though he may not turn to be all they expected. When the companions set out from Trest, they find simply getting to the Sky Cleavers proves to be a challenge and by the time they are ready to confront the beast, the party has changed drastically, combining some of the rarest races in Torea, all joining the party under very different circumstances.

As the gravity of their grim task becomes apparent, the warriors begin to realize, their chances of success are not good, and even if they can prevail against the odds, it seems unlikely they will all survive the encounter.

When the quest is done, the true nature of the Empress’s mission is revealed. What is not revealed is the mysterious ‘Truth’ which Brael continually references but it unable to talk about, nor the devastating ramifications the ‘Truth’ has on everyone.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Martyn Stanley is a talented new voice in the fantasy genre, and his book, “Deathsworn: the Last Dragon Slayer” Surprised and delighted me. Just when I thought there was no more room for yet another book about slaying a dragon, came this one–and it made me think twice about that judgement.

Here is what I loved about this book:

First of all, the main character is not your average,”I shall succeed at everything except keeping my ego in check” type of hero. This was important to me as I have seen this in far too many books. I liked that this character had faults and wasn’t perfect. It allowed me to feel closer to him and to identify with his purpose and plight that much more.

I applaud the dynamic between the characters in this book, in particular the relationships between the members of the group that ended up travelling together. I enjoyed wondering what would happen between a burgeoning love interest and two people that could have either become friends or ended up at odds. The author has a talent for creating tension between his characters and keeping the reader engaged for the duration of the story.

The battles scenes are well placed and strategic and reminded me somewhat of a movie. Martyn Stanley is good at anticipating the desires of the reader and fulfilling them in such a way that keeps you wanting to get to the next page.I never felt the pace drop in this story and it kept me reading even late into the night.

I also liked that the reader was introduced to the characters without miles and miles of pointless back story. You come into the novel where the characters are at in their current life and get to know them via their life from that point forward, rather than wading through the early lives and times of said characters. This was a nice angle for a fantasy author to use.

One of the more exceptional portions of this book, was the language that this author gave to the elves. I liked the original dialect and felt it helped them to stand out from the other characters in the book. I was transported to another world, rather than just reading about it second-hand.

I think this book is evident that Mr. Stanley is an author to watch–a promising new talent with a bright future ahead of him. I am greatly looking forward to his next book.

Overall, this was a wonderfully refreshing fantasy novel with lots of surprises and reasons to love it. I would recommend this to anyone who is tired of the basic formula and is looking for something that has not been done before. Great book.

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