Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Excerpt from Book 2 of The Mahaelian Chronicle

For those of you who've been bugging me... ;-)

(Note: I'm still busy writing book 2, so this is very much a FIRST DRAFT.)

***

“This is where it happened,” Daergan said, pointing at the circular stretch of earth. “Do you see?”
            His son, seven moon-cycles old and apparently taller than Daergan had been at the same age, stepped forward and peered into the open space. The Monument-shadows covered the ground in thick, black slats that crossed into each other, leaving blocks of dark and light on the ground. As if the sun and the pillars of Wielded soul-stone had conspired to create a game-board of some kind at this hallowed spot. The young Elvayn was about to say as much to his father, but this seemed to be a serious occasion, and so he remained quiet. It was early morning, the sun’s glow having just crested the horizon, and all around them lay a heavy layer of silence.
            “Soon,” continued his father, “the Disciples and the Holy One will be released, and this place will become the site upon which the true destiny of our people shall be built.” He gestured around at the monuments, whose shadows had begun to slowly turn with the sun’s movement. “These pillars will form the centre of the Seed House, and it will be Wielded outwards until it covers even the ground that the City of Traitors held, so long ago.” He could see a fervent light in his father’s eyes, as if they were lit from within with the visions of future grandeur that his son wasn’t able to share in. “The Seed House will be the beacon that stands in the middle of the new city, waiting for us to return from our journey to rae’Fallo.”
            Tuning out his father’s words –for he had heard them many times before- the young Elvayn sneaked a glance at the ruins of the first city his people had ever Wielded. Very little remained, since most of the surviving structures had either been razed or removed, but it seemed that the earth remembered that ancient battle.
            In places the ground was barren and dusty –where Wielders had stood and drawn upon the energy at their feet until nothing but lifeless soil remained- and great depressions marched off into the distance, some small but many large enough to swallow five or six men, as if massive fists had struck out in unfocused anger. He tried to imagine what that day must have been like, wondered what had truly happened, and failed every time. According to the histories that were taught, the succeeding battles to take the remaining cities had been brutal and vicious, too, but every story he had ever heard or read seemed to agree that this first battle of the Traitor-War had been the most brutal.
            It was just too … large for his mind to comprehend. The destruction and death, the broken family-cells, the shortages of food and shelter; more and more he was beginning to agree with his mother.
            Nothing warranted the doling out of such pain and misery. Nothing.
            “And we shall return in glory and triumph,” his father continued. ”In our lifetime will this occur, Aedral, do you understand? You will witness the unveiling of our destiny.”
            Aedral looked back just in time to meet his father’s gaze and he fought to maintain the connection, and the illusion that he was his father’s son in more ways than just biologically. He wanted nothing more than to run to his mother and take her far away from this place, to finally join the Circle and to take his place among the men and women who remembered the truth, not the manufactured and carefully maintained lies that had been fed to them over the generations.
            “Come here,” Daergan beckoned, undoing the buttons of his black jacket before lowering himself to his knees beside one of the Monument-pillars. Aedral joined him, careful to maintain a ‘reverent’ air and to copy his father’s posture. When his father bent at the waist and lowered his head to the ground, Aedral followed suit, and their foreheads made contact with the earth at the same moment. Aedral expected a shock of contact, the Holy One reaching out with His thought-voice to acknowledge his presence and his genuflection, but once again nothing happened. Perhaps there was some truth to what was said – that the Holy One waited for each new Disciple to reach the correct age before the first Communion took place. He almost wished he had a headband such as his father wore, to somehow buffer the contact with the ground, because this was a place that made his skin crawl.
            Aedral would rather that the Communion never occurred – he was sure that his thoughts would be laid bare, his motives and the motives of the Circle discovered, in that instant. It was difficult to disbelieve the stories of Communion he had heard when almost everyone he came into contact with on a daily basis shared his father’s fervent loyalty, and his father wasn’t the only person who had said that they had heard the Holy One’s thought-voice.
            Bent now as he was with his forehead touching the very ground upon which the Binding Chorus had been unleashed, Aedral was suddenly thankful that his ill-advised attempts had failed. He hadn’t told his mother what he’d done, and he hoped the others would keep quiet, too. The threat of Judgement would serve to keep their mouths shut, at least until the night of their Internment, but after that? Who could say? He hoped to be on his way to the Circle long before the ceremony began, because the fact that he had lied to them would be revealed – they had heard the Holy One and he had told them that he had, too.
            He didn’t want to be here with his father, not like this and not now. The Internment ceremony was days away, and as soon as they were done here he would return to his mother and try to convince her that they had to leave as soon as possible, that lingering was courting discovery and that … that he was afraid.
            “You must remain prone during the Internment,” his father was saying, his voice muffled against the dirt. “From the moment the ceremony begins until the Holy One releases you, understand? To break contact is an act of terrible disrespect, an act that will taint our family’s honour for generations.”
            Aedral almost voiced his frustration aloud at that moment, swallowing back the groan of frustration. He knew that his father wasn’t an evil man; Daergan had never shown anyone disrespect, had never been callous or unthinking, had always been gentle and respectful toward his wife. He wasn’t like some of the others, those who treated the Traitor-born with scorn, insulting them and even assaulting them on occasion. He followed the laws and had never once misused them. But it didn’t change the fact that he was on the wrong side, and that some day he would have to face his father, stand firm as a member of the Circle, and possibly Sing against him.
            Better that outcome, he remembered his mother telling him, than the complete destruction of the Circle. We must stand, Aedral. We cannot falter.
            “I won’t bring dishonor upon us, Father,” he said, his voice also muffled by the ground inches from his lips. The soil was warm, its musty odour filling his head. The effects of Wielding left an indelible mark on the earth, something that no-one should have been able to dismiss. But it happened, the minds of the loyal so focused that such a simple thing as the difference between the scents of live earth and dead earth completely escaped them. Such an obvious thing. He was sad that we was lying to his father by saying those words, but it couldn’t be helped – his choice had just been made anew, and it seemed to him that the price he might one day have to pay to ensure that balance returned was something he could live with.
            Aedral sensed the motion of his father rising and lifted his head from the dirt before rising to his feet, secretly happy that he wouldn’t have to genuflect like this again. He felt his father’s hand on his shoulder and he turned to face him.
            “I am proud of you, Aedral, and so is your mother.” He smiled. “You will become a great Disciple – you are already a worthy son.” He squeezed briefly, as close to showing affection as he ever came, and said, “Return to your mother. I promised her that I would not keep you long.”
            Aedral nodded at his father, relief spreading through him in a wave, and when he turned away from the Monuments he was walking slightly faster than what he intended. He didn’t see his father watching him, and didn’t see how his father’s shoulders slumped in resignation.
            His feet took him down the path towards the smaller environs of the Second City, the name it would carry until the destroyed City of Traitors –Mathra’umaen, he thought proudly- was rebuilt. The wayward children of the Holy One had to first be saved and returned from rae’Fallo before that could happen. The path, wide between a corridor of over-grown shrubs and the odd leaning tree, swept down off the hill towards the wide spaces of grass and stones that had faced the old city. Rounding the bend, Aedral watched the city come into view – a haphazard jumble of variously sized buildings, blocky and graceless in the style of the southern cities, the structures arrayed in concentric circles that became tighter and more choked the closer one came to the middle.
            In the middle, rearing like a slab-shouldered beast of weathered soul-stone, stood the Disciple’s Hall, the largest building in the Second City. It was featureless except for the four openings on each side, three times the height of the city’s more general structures, and covered a large section of ground. Everyone knew that it had been Wielded into place upon the very spot which the Seed had occupied, bot no-one spoke of that anymore. It was as common a knowledge as the rising of the sun. Most of the time Aedral’s father was there, among the other Disciples, though he retired to his home every evening to spend what time he could with his wife and son. Aedral knew that his mother would have liked to spend every free moment she could with his father –she loved him and respected him, even though she was part of the one group that was working against him and the other Disciples- and he wouldn’t have minded, either.
Though he was still considered a child among the adults, he had been born –as all Elvayn were- conscious and aware, able to communicate and move about with minimal training and supervision. Many of the children his own age knew their fathers better than he knew his own, but then again, only a fraction of the population that had rebuilt itself after the Traitor War were Disciples.
Those who were members of the Circle numbered even fewer people – another important reason for their secrecy and circumspectness.
As Aedral approached the outskirts of the city he began to pass people –traders and their loads pulled by straining ergoi, minders keeping an eye on the younger, more rambunctious children, older people out for a stroll where the air was fresher- and he couldn’t help but wonder if he was passing members of the Circle and if they knew him, because of his mother. He saw no-one looking at him, or even stealing glances, but he felt as if he were being watched, and even constantly judged. One of the questions he’d never been able to get his mother to answer was what happened to those who knew about the Circle but weren’t allowed to join its ranks?
What would happen to him if he was found wanting?
Passing into the cool shadow of a small home, Aedral shook that thought off. His mother wouldn’t allow any harm to come to him. But would his father be as protective? Aedral hoped he would never have to find out.
Forcing himself not to think of possibilities, he concentrated instead on the certainties that he saw all around him. The dusty paths, marked by the scuff marks of thousands of feet, curved and bent and speared around the many buildings, creating a puzzle of routes that most people took years to memorize. The soul-stone of the structures was unadorned, the only hints of colour coming from the clothing the people wore; robes of various lengths and cuts for the members of the tightly controlled Guilds, trousers and sleeveless tunics for the rest of the population. All shades cycled between green, brown and a dull yellow, while the Disciples were marked by the black jackets they wore and the headbands around their foreheads.
He saw one of them now, walking slowly between the buildings, turning his gaze this way and that and smiling at the people he passed. He was probably doing his rounds, patrolling his sector as all Yearling Disciples did; Aedral’s father had performed the same duty for a full moon-cycle before attaining the next level of devotion as a Student. If the Circle didn’t accept him and he somehow passed muster and was allowed to begin his training as a Disciple, such a path that lay ahead of him.
Mother will see that I’m accepted, he chided himself. Even if she has to go against Father- He crushed that thought immediately; he would never allow the situation to reach that point. Better to hand himself over for Judgement than to witness his father Wielding against his mother, the course of action he would be forced into since the law stated that Traitors could only be dealt with in that one manner.
He managed to still his thoughts as he made his way between the houses and Guild-buildings, and before he knew it he was approaching the building in which he lived with his parents. It was like all the others, walls of weathered soul-stone capped by a flat roof, yet he knew it intimately, perhaps because the patterns of weathering on the outer walls were inimical to it and it alone, perhaps because he had never spent the night in any other building.
He passed between the frames of the open doorway –another structural aspect shared by all the residences of the Second City as stated by the laws and enforced by the Disciples- and blinked as his eyes adjusted to the semi-gloom inside. His mother spoke before he saw her.
“Your father doesn’t suspect?”
Aedral sighed, turning in the direction of her voice. “No, Mother.” He took up a block of wood from a table close by and instinctively began Singing, bringing back the energy-memory of the wood so that it gradually began to shift and flow back into its true form, but his mother hissed at him.
“No!”
He flinched, dropping the block, stilling his voice, and watched as she snatched it up, Wielding it back into the block it had been before his Singing had begun to re-make it.
“Never do that,” she whispered urgently, “not here! Never in the city, do you understand?”
He nodded, knowing that if anyone had caught him Singing not even Judgement would be necessary – he’d be executed on the spot as a Traitor, and probably his mother too, for witnessing and perhaps teaching the forbidden art to him.
She took a breath, composed herself. “Good. It is good that he doesn’t suspect.” He heard the relief in that one word. “We have only to wait two more days, and then we can get you out of the city.”
“It cannot happen sooner?” he asked, walking up to her and taking her hand. She was taller than him, but not by much, and her mouth curved in a gentle smile as she squeezed his hand in return.
“You know we must be patient. Leaving with the Guild of Harvesters is the only way to smuggle you out of the city.” She squeezed his hand. “I know you are anxious, Aedral. I am too. I know what could happen if your father...” She broke eye contact briefly, shook the thought away, and then made eye contact again. “I will make sure that you reach the Circle. Have faith in that.”
For a long moment he could only fight the thoughts that tumbled through his head, the what-ifs and the other questions that threatened to overwhelm him, but eventually he managed a nod. She wrapped her arms around him and gave him a brief squeeze.
“I’ve prepared something for you to eat,” she said as she drew back, releasing him. “Make sure you finish eating before you report to the Educators, but quickly!” She gave him a playful swat on the shoulder. “Go on now. You may be the son of a Disciple, but even the Educators won’t allow you to be late.”
Aedral groaned. It seemed that the day had hardly begun and he felt tired already, but his mother was right. If anything in his routine changed prior to the day he finally left to join the Circle, people would notice. And when people noticed something different, they reported it to the Disciples.
If that happened, the questions would quickly serve to trip him and his mother up, and as soon as they gave differing answers, Judgement would follow soon after.

***

There we go, folks! Hope you enjoyed it! :-)

Be EPIC!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Panels, Interviews and Reviews - Two Massive Months!

Hey everyone. :-)

Man, have I been busy! Book 2 is coming along nicely (and epically, if I may say so), and I've been lucky enough to have been to three great events.

You may have seen coverage of these events over the past two months, but here's a quick summary before I let you watch the videos that my girlfriend recorded at each event:



The first, and biggest event of my writing career (so far) was the Sci-Fi & Fantasy Rocks! event which took place on the 18th of September at the Fugard Threatre in Cape Town - I was on a panel with legendary Epic Fantasy author Raymond E. Feist as well as Urban Fantasy author and Comic-writer Mike Carey (also appearing as M. R. Carey).



The panel was awesomely moderated by my publisher, Marius Du Plessis, and although we didn't fill the theatre, everyone who was there agreed that the panel was epic. Check out this write-up of the event from Liesl Jobson on BooksLive, and then check out the videos. :-)









The next event took place almost a week later at Indulgence Cafe in Northcliff, Johannesburg, and this time it was me and Raymond infront of over a hundred fans, chatting about his work and the business of writing. :-) Awesome event, which I'm sure Raymond enjoyed, too - and I was able to finally give him a copy of Betrayal's Shadow, too. :-) Check out the write-up of the event here, on the blog run and maintained by Mandi Friedman, owner of the wonderful venue.

The next event, which took place on the same day, *almost* filled up the brand new and stunning Rosebank branch of Exclusive Books - massive thanks to Helen Suzor for allowing us to use her store for the event and Talita Van Graan for all the arrangements. :-) Check out the photos here.

I've got two events coming up towards the end of October in Cape Town -HorrorFest and a signing at the Labia Theatre- so keep your eyes peeled for the details. :-)

I've also enjoyed epic press lately - Nerine Dorman interviewed me a while back and the interview was printed in the Pretoria News newspaper; check out the photo below and then head over to Nerine's blog to read what was printed.



I was also interviewed by Wesley Anderson (the first person to read both Betrayal's Shadow and A Song of Sacrifce) for BooksLive, and that interview is online: Here's the link!

And there have been three new reviews of Betrayal's Shadow - one from Johnnie Aucamp: "...good writing style, good characters and a plot that does not let go of all its secrets at once (or even as the book finishes) and you have a good, solid piece of genre fiction that ends on a very sinister note." (read the rest of the review here);

one from Jon over at Bookworms Bookclub: "Without giving too much away, if you'd told me this book had psychic soldiers, weretigers, zombies, a badass mage and interplanetary elves I would have called BS and ignored you." Check out the rest of the review here;

And finally, one of the most mind-blowing reviews I've ever read, from Andy: "As a first novel, this is probably the best I have read since Tad Williams' Memory, Sorrow and Thorn series." Check out the rest of this incredible review here.

Oh, and there are massively cool and epic things afoot - if everything works out well, I might be posting HUGE news in the next month or so. ;-)

Until the next post,
Hope you're reading and enjoying my book! :-)

Be EPIC!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Guest Post: Rashieq Sasman on Designing the Cover of Betrayal's Shadow

Hey everyone!

Yep, I'm busy getting myself psyched up for the epic event coming up in a couple of hours - yep, that's the Open Book Festival event tonight. :-) I'll be at the Fugard Theatre, and chatting with Marius Du Plessis (my publisher), Mike Carey and Raymond E. Feist (both of whom need no introduction). :-)

But before the event, I thought it was time to get the guy behind my incredible cover onto the blog. :-)

So folks, here's Rashieq Sasman:



 "Betrayal’s Shadow" - Cover Art Process

It was a slow couple of weeks before I got the opportunity to create the book cover for Betrayal’s Shadow. I needed something though, so I took the leap of faith and contacted Fox and Raven Publishers. I never expected them to reply, and I REALLY never expected them to actually have the one thing I was looking for – an opportunity to create the cover for an amazing epic fantasy novel.

I’d never forget the excitement I felt upon reading the brief. This was the kind of work I lived for. The genre was epic fantasy, akin to Lord of the Rings. The subject matter was a beautiful palace with the fortified qualities of a castle. 

A structure that protectively loomed over the city. 

I knew I had to make this epic and had to be like nothing I've done before. I began researching different types of castles and palaces. I researched what kind of stone would be used with a certain kind of castle, as well as which parts of the world they would originate from. 

Even though this was all fantasy, it had to be based on reality in some way, to make it believable in a sense. Immediately ideas started forming and taking the place of my thoughts and worries. There were so many, but I knew I had to filter it. I knew I had to stay loyal to the brief as much as possible.  

After hours of researching and sketching, I eventually sent them (Fox and Raven) the concepts. There were three. Three concepts completely different from each other, but shared the same qualities the brief had asked for. 





Dave, the author of Betrayal’s Shadow, was the one to give me feedback. He seemed to have liked certain parts of each concept. He told me to take these ideas and mash them together. So that’s what I did.

This was when things got really exciting and where the real work started. I now knew how I wanted the end product to look. I had a very clear picture. No more rough sketches, concepts or drafts. This was it. I began by creating the perfect brush set for myself, one that would be best suited for the style I was going for. It was rough and often hard edged. 

Yet, because of the scale, I was able to give it a lot of detail.  I knew I wanted it to be dark, but also vibrant. And I think the sky helped to achieve that. The painting of the city was probably the most challenging part of the entire process, as I went almost directly into the residence and painted people, little bricks on the houses and other details you would usually miss from a distance. I made sure there was a starting point for the eye, so it would take you on a journey through the city leading up to the castle, and eventually you’d step back and see the entire artwork.

After some final touches with editing and messing around with lighting and textures, the final artwork eventually turned out the way I envisioned it…


 A painting, a city, and a book cover with a vast story tell.




Dave here again. :-) It goes without saying that Rashieq will be doing the covers for book 2 and book 3. The man is a LEGEND, and I'm so happy with his work! I'm sure you agree. :-)

Be EPIC!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Meet Raymond E. Feist at Exclusive Books Rosebank on 24 September!

Hey folks, I'm just one of the luckiest Fantasy fans around. :-)

Hope to see you there! :-) Check out the Event Page on Facebook, and remember to bring your stock-of-books along. :-)

Be EPIC!

Monday, September 1, 2014

ReleaseDay - A Forest of Dreams, edited by Roy C. Booth, featuring 'The Bell'

Happy September 1st! :-)

Today is not only cool because it marks the official beginning of Spring, but also because you can read something brand new from me!

The paperback edition of an excellent new Fantasy anthology, "A Forest of Dreams", released today. :-)


Here's the Table of Contents:

Introduction by Roy C. Booth

The Trouble With Dragons by Allan B. Anders 1
 

When Darkness Falls, The Light by Rose Blackthorn 19
 

Trespassers by Cynthia Booth and Roy C. Booth 44
 

The Bell by Dave De Burgh 57
 

Runaway Clydesdale by Jesse Duckworth 64
 

Songs For Dead Hearts by Mani Fdn 75
 

Accounting For Change by Jan Goeb 98
 

Dancing Dolls by R.A.M. Graham 103
 

Squire Williams' New Charge by Rick Hipps 108
 

Mudwife by Axel Kohagen and Roy C. Booth 137
 

Only a Nightmare by R. Scott McCoy 150
 

Dragon Toast by Verna McKinnon 155
 

Intrepid Dawn by Angela Meadon 184
 

All The Leaves Your Bed by Michael Merriam 209
 

The Last Unicorn by Druscilla Morgan 232
 

King Kong Died For Your Sins by James Pratt 258
 

Weapon of Mass Demoralization Test by Dyfedd Rex 272
 

Jack's Day Out by Maggie Secara 295
 

In The Weft by Damisen Shentay 316

Afterword 330


The anthology was edited by Roy C. Booth and published by Indie Author Press; the Kindle edition will be released on the 1st of October, so pre-order now!

I hope you enjoy the tales in this anthology - it's really kickass to have my tale included!

Please let us know what you think - stop by on the official Facebook Page, or post a review on Amazon and Goodreads. :-)

Happy Reading, and, as always,
Be EPIC! 

Monday, August 25, 2014

New Reviews, Up-Coming Appearances, and more!

Hey everyone, hope you're all well! :-)

It's been a while since my last post, but I've been damned busy - and enjoying it! :-)

First off, some great new reviews from fellow authors:



David John Butler, author of numerous books including the awesome-looking Hellhound on my Trail (which I've had lined-up for a while, just need to make time to READ it!), posted his review of Betrayal's Shadow on his blog and on Amazon; do check out what he had to say - his remarks definitely made my year!



Next up, fellow South African author Melissa Delport gave Betrayal's Shadow a read and sent me the coolest late-night message I've ever received - her review still rocks, though! :-)  

"I have always been a fan of SFF, although Epic high fantasy is a bit of a stretch. Simply put, I like my books simple. Until I read Betrayals Shadow." Check out the rest of her epic review here. :-)

(click here to order Nerine's latest novel)

The next kickass review landed TODAY, and is the first time my work has been reviewed in the newspapers - Nerine Dorman's review of Betrayal's Shadow was published in today's edition of the Pretoria News, and I'm over the moon; here's an excerpt:  

"De Burgh throws readers into the thick of things -a quality I appreciate- considering the fantasy genre's tendency to indulge in exposition."



The biggest news concerns events coming up in September and October - here's the details:



I'll be traveling down to Cape Town for this year's Open Book Festival, which means 5 days of excellent literary events, including a panel in which I'll be chatting to Raymond E Feist, Mike Carey and my publisher, Marius Du Plessis, about how much we love our jobs. :-)

That panel will be on the 18th of September, at the Fugard Theatre, and I cannot tell you how excited I am for this! Do be able to sit down and chat with Mr. Feist and Mr. Carey is a serious honour - everyone who reads Fantasy has either read or heard of Magician, the book that kicked off Pug's epic adventures, and as for Mr. Carey, you've either read the Felix Castor series or the book that's been making a huge impression on readers, 'The Girl with All the Gifts'. So, I'm terrified and elated. ;-)

Make sure that you organize to join us at Open Book - you can download the full program at the site right now.

Update on Book 2: I've been having awesome sessions these past two weeks and the book is on track for a end-November hand-in; if you've been following my Facebook Page and Twitter account you may have seen some cryptic updates... ;-)

A short story I wrote will also be published in the print- and kindle-editions of a great new anthology (edited by Roy C. Booth) and published by Indie Author Press; the story's title is The Bell and you can pre-order your copies on Amazon right now! Print edition is launching on the 1st of September and the Kindle edition with go live on the 1st of October! :-)



I mentioned an event for October too, I know - I'll make that awesome announcement soon. :-)

So, until next time,
BE EPIC!


Friday, August 8, 2014

"Meet My Main Character" Blog Tour

Afternoon! :-)

Monique Snyman, fellow South African author (her work includes Charming Incantations: Enticed, Charming Incantations: Sanguine, and much more) tagged me for this post. :-)

Since I've got more than one 'main' character in Betrayal's Shadow I'll focus this post on the prequel for The Mahaelian Chronicle, which has one primary protagonist and one primary antagonist. :-) The focus of this post is a character named Ordaefus.

  
1. Tell us a little about this main character. Is she fictional or a historic person?

Ordaefus is a fictional character and an Elvayn – Elvayn are non-humans capable of what humans would call sorcery or magic, and Ordaefus is well-respected among his people. He's a thoughtful man, dedicated completely to his people and their ideals … which is one of the reasons for the conflict he finds himself at the centre of in A Song of Sacrifice.


2. When and where is the story set?

The tale takes place on the central continent of the Elvayn world - the Elvayn live in beautiful, sprawling cities and have reached a pinnacle, in terms of their civilization and society, but the status quo is being strained by an approaching conflict.

3. What should we know about him?

Ordaefus only wants what's best for his people, and that means accepting change - he is not a violent man (none of the Elvayn are, in fact), but change affects everything...

4. What is the main conflict? What messes up his life?

Elvayn are capable of manipulating or changing the energy-memory of anything around them - basically, they have the power to change a thing's molecular structure, making it into something else. For thousands of years the Elvayn have practiced Wielding - changing, for example, a rock into a chair; but it's when Ordaefus discovers Singing -changing that chair back into a rock once, say, the chair is no longer useful or needed- that his brother, Mahaelal, protests. Mahaelal sees Singing as heretical and does not want to accept the changes that Singing will bring into Elvayn society, and he decides to stand against his brother, intending to keep his people safe and un-changed.

5. What is his personal goal?

Ordaefus' goal is to help his people understand that Singing can lead to great and positive change, and when the conflict erupts, pitting him against his brother and the Elvayn that agree with his brother, Ordaefus' goal becomes helping his people to remain free.
6. What are the titles of your novels, and where can we read more about them?

'A Song of Sacrifice' is the prequel, set thousands of years before the first novel in my trilogy, Betrayal's Shadow. It is published by Fox & Raven Publishing and can also be ordered online via Amazon or Exclusive Books. I'm hard at work on the second book (title yet to be revealed).

7. When can we expect your next book to be published?

I''ll be completing and handing in Book 2 by November this year, and that will hopefully lead to a pub-date of around March / April in 2015. :-)
OK, Tag time!

Monique has already tagged excellent South African storytellers (check out her post here), so here are my picks - definitely worth a look! :-)
Devlin Chase,
Angela Meadon,
Sergio Pereira,
Suzanne Van Rooyen,
Cat Hellisen

Until next time,
Be EPIC!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Excerpt: The Mahaelian Chronicle Prequel - A Song of Sacrifice

Morning! :-) Hope you're all well!

I've got something cool for you today - an excerpt from Betrayal's Shadow's first prequel, A Song of Sacrifice.

First? Yep, there'll be another prequel hitting your eReaders / tablets shortly after the release of Book 2. :-)

Let's get to the excerpt, shall we? :-)

***

Shadows began to stain the bubble of radiance that surrounded Ordaefus; black tendrils like lightning strikes reaching out and swelling, joining together, until he was engulfed in the Dark.
It lasted only an instant – all Travelling did. Translocation was, at least to observers, instantaneous – but he felt the fear twitch inside him, like an animal rising from the depths of sleep. All Singers did, though none would admit it. Even Wielders became silent when the Dark was mentioned. No one had been able to prove its existence, but everyone who had ever sung themselves from one place to another had felt the insistent pressure, akin to the sensation of knowing that you were being watched but unable to find the watcher.
As soon as the Dark engulfed him sparks appeared, surrounding him like a shroud of night sky. He kept his voice stable and strong, fighting the instinct – like a sudden itch – to fall silent and listen for what must surely be crouching nearby, and the light began to spread and swell, bleeding into and eating the Dark. Ordaefus felt his hearts begin to quicken and his song rose slightly in volume – and then the radiance was gone and he was standing in a circle, one of many outside the gracefully twisting spires of Mathra’umaen.

Home. He was finally home.

Air, spiced with the scents of freshly-sung feathergrass and roasting ergoi-meat, wafted against his bare brow and he unclasped his hands, raising them with open palms as his personal contingent of Choir Guards stepped forward into the circle.

“Peace,” Ordaefus murmured, feeling the weight of transitioning through the Dark lifting from his shoulders. The guards turned their backs on him, arms opening smoothly outward so that the hilts of each guard’s songstave touched with a single high note. The air shimmered around the group as a shield domed overhead; dust puffed from the ground where its invisible substance made contact with the dirt of the circle. Ordaefus allowed himself a sigh of acceptance – he was the Song-Priest; the Choir Guard would never allow him to move unshielded. Well, not in the vicinity of Mathra’umaen.

And not with Mahaelal’s Wielders abroad.

Ordaefus knew that Sorhael would have harsh words for him as soon as he stepped into the chambers they shared. She took her role as his Conflict Singer seriously, and she loved him – he couldn’t help smiling when he realised that he had just escaped a Wielder ambush to fall into a situation that was probably infinitely more dangerous.

Ordaefus lowered his hands to his sides, the emotional taint of the Dark now almost completely gone. “I am ready.”

Mathra’umaen was one of only fourteen great Soul-Cities still in Singer possession. It was, to Ordaefus’ subjective eyes, the most beautiful, and not only because it was the first.

Thousands of moon-cycles before, the plain upon which the city shimmered had been a vast soulwood forest, the sentient trees standing in masses and ranks from horizon to horizon, conversing in melodic rumbles as their life-songs seeped back into the soil which had birthed them aeons before. The Elvayn of that time – so much simpler and happier, Ordaefus couldn’t help thinking – had then only recently begun to discover how to wield.

They had been a careful people, then, careful and thankful. They had understood that a gift of immeasurable value had been given into their care. The soul trees had welcomed these diminutive beings, knowing that their ability to wield and manipulate the world’s energies was dangerous and a possible threat, but trusting the Elvayn to be responsible and respectful. It was that relationship, over the following tens of millennia of moon-cycles, which had given birth to the first Elvayn city – the soul trees giving the Elvayn permission to wield their soul-bereft bodies into the soulstone structures and shapes that now made up Mathra’umaen.

As Ordaefus and his Choir Guard approached the city, twenty-two pairs of bare feet making hardly a sound on the fused-soil roadway that led to the Gate of Harmony, the Song-Priest allowed the site of it to fill his senses.

Across the horizon it stretched, as the soulwood forest once had, a place of twisting spires that arched over and into each other, thickening into massive blossoms of halls and accommodation cells, thinning elsewhere into roads and pathways that snaked away and to every direction. Each surface swam with colour, a dance of hues and shades and contrasts, a constant shifting of colour and beauty. It was and always would be a sight that stole his breath – but it saddened him, too.

The cities that had fallen to Mahaelal’s Wielders were drab, colourless places of uniform shapes and precise measurements. Ordaefus had never believed that the disagreements with his cell-brother would have led to such an overwhelming refutation of all that it meant to be Elvayn.

The man had lost so much to his need for control, for order ... Even the skies above those cities seemed wounded – sickly grey-yellow stains hung in the air, leaving moisture-bereft shadows on the ground, products of the structures that birthed the warcraft of his brother’s armies.

Ordaefus glanced down at his vestments, choosing to look past the stains and scorch marks – evidence of his escape from the ambush – and see instead the bright, vibrant colours that proclaimed him and, indeed, his people the true Elvayn. He stood out, proudly so, as did everyone in Mathra’umaen. He wasn’t only an Elvayn of the old, trusted way, but someone who saw the value in being an individual.

His shoulders were the deep, depthless blue of the sky, his chest a vibrant magenta shot through with golden filaments. The chord-belt around his waist was silver flecked with black, the skirt of the robe blending with magenta above to become a soulful purple, eventually mirroring the colour of the dirt at his feet. And tomorrow – depending on whether he would survive his reunion with Sorhael – his vestments would be differently coloured, or the same. It didn’t matter what colours he wielded into his clothes – neither did it matter which colours the thousands of people of this city chose. They were free to choose, and they were called upon, too, to accept responsibility for their choices.

Mahaelal had forced his choices upon so many...

Ordaefus took a deep breath as he and the Choir Guard passed under the splendid arch of the Gate of Harmony, stepping over the threshold of the largest defensive circle the Song-Priest had ever helped wield. The barrier allowed their entry, of course, because their energy-imprint had been wielded into its structure. The defensive barrier thinned and passed through the bodies of the Choir Guards and the Song-Priest, only slightly wielding their essences, as a hand passing through water momentarily disturbs the liquid. The city knew them and allowed their presence.

Ordaefus knew it was wishful thinking, but the air beyond the shield seemed cleaner, somehow, untainted by the ever-present threat waiting beyond the eastern horizon. Waiting and preparing, no doubt. Word would have reached Mahaelal by now of Ordaefus’ exploratory meander – search parties would be quartering the area he had allowed himself to be spotted in, and it was highly possible that his brother was there in person. Mahaelal had ever been the dangerously curious cell-brother, always pushing for answers and for reasons that fit his beliefs.

Ordaefus hoped to someday use that against his brother, though the possibility of it pained him.

Realising that his thoughts had led him out of the moment, the Song-Priest focused again and saw with surprise that his return journey was almost at an end – the colours of the structure at the end of the path they walked matched the colours he had chosen for his vestments this day and so proclaimed it as the Song-Priest’s accommodation cell.

Low to the soulstone pathway and with a gracefully sloping roof, the structure had only one level and didn’t take up much space. Ordaefus hadn’t seen the need for anything ostentatious, nor for the grandiosity that he imagined Mahaelal enjoyed. Uniformly oval spaces in its walls let in the light of the sun so that every room enjoyed its priceless heat, and at night the ceiling opened, slats retracting into the walls to let in the silvery light of the moon. Inside were four cells – one for Sorhael, where she could focus on the struggle against Mahaelal and plan the constant resistance missions, one that he used when meeting with the Song-Priests of the other cities, and a room that they shared; their space of silence and calm amid the unfortunate storm that had overtaken their lives.

Through a gap between two of the guards Ordaefus glimpsed a figure standing in the centre of the main access, with arms folded; he didn’t need to see the storm-grey colour of the robes to identify the figure as his life-mate. Ordaefus steeled himself, beginning to wield his vestments back into their unmarked form before he caught himself. Mahaelal had risen to become such a threat because of what he had kept secret – Ordaefus would not let himself hide anything; not from his people, and not from Sorhael.

As the group approached the Song-Priest’s residence the guards before him shifted to the left and right, opening a space for him to move through. The defensive shield they had wielded made contact with the soulstone walls of his home and Ordaefus felt the tingle of energy-change as the wielded constructs – one physical, the other ethereal – fused harmoniously. The way was now open and he stepped into the gap, offering Sorhael what he hoped was a smile filled with love and happiness.

“You should have informed me,” she said as he came up to her, her voice mellifluous with barely contained emotion. “Your hearts are the beating pulse of this city, Song-Priest. We cannot afford to lose you.”

He lifted his arms as he stepped closer, drawing her against him, accepting her stiff demeanour, and pushed his forehead gently against hers. “You have not lost me, Heart-Song.”

***

As you might have picked up from the excerpt, 'A Song of Sacrifice' features some characters that were only mentioned in the novel. I hope it whetted your appetite for more! :-)

You can order it online from wherever you can access Amazon, but here are the links: for Amazon US and Amazon UK. And if you're on Goodreads, here we go!

  

Be EPIC!