Posts Tagged ‘action/adventure’

A Taste of Copper by Elin Gregory

Your master has the field for today, but his name, whatever it might be, is without honour.

Olivier the squire worships the Black Knight and takes a fierce joy in his prowess as he defends a bridge against all comers. Olivier only wishes that his master loved him as much in return instead of treating him as a servant and occasional plaything.

Then word comes that the King desires to cross the bridge. With an army approaching, a bright eyed archer enticing Olivier to desert and the first cracks beginning to show in the Black Knight’s gruff demeanour, Olivier is left wondering if his honour is worth more than a chance for happiness.

Word count: 25,900
Cover Art: Meredith Russell
Editor: Erika Orrick
Copyright: Elin Gregory


Laden with a steaming bucket in one hand and a platter bearing bread, sausage and a jug of wine in the other, Olivier shouldered aside the entrance flap to enter the pavilion. Sir Maheris was still armoured but had removed his helmet and pushed back his coif. His short cap of black hair had spiked up with sweat, and deep lines bracketed his full lips. Maheris had fierce black eyes beneath frowning brows, but Olivier had seen his scowl ease into a gentle smile when he slept. Olivier wondered what dream could put that soft vulnerability on Maheris’s face and prayed one day to see such a smile turned towards him.

But now Sir Maheris was glowering. “You were delayed? Perhaps the horses ran off? Undo these buckles.”

“Sir?” Olivier put his burdens down and hurried to his side. “Did I fasten them too tightly? Your pardon, sir, I…”

Maheris grunted and raised his left hand, ungauntleted now, to show it bright with blood. “A lucky stroke,” he said. “Reihershof’s point caught a chink in my brassard.”

Olivier’s heart thumped fast as he assisted Maheris. Blood was still dripping, the sharp scent of it mingling with the stench of iron and old sweat from the padded doublet. He set the pieces of armour aside to clean later and eased the doublet over Maheris’s head. The left sleeve of it weighed heavy with blood, and the shirt beneath was sodden. Olivier bit his lip as he eased the clotted fabric away and saw the bright trickle that followed.

“That will do,” Maheris said once he was bare to the waist. His heavy shoulders and chest gleamed with sweat, his skin goosefleshing in the chill air, but he waved Olivier away when he brought Maheris a towel. “Time for that when the wound is sealed,” he said as he took a seat. “You know what to do.”

The wound in his bicep gaped like a hot, wet mouth.

“Is it clean?” Maheris demanded. “Get on with it, boy.”

Read the whole of the first chapter here.

Buy Links

Many thanks to Love Lane Books for organising a Rafflecopter giveaway with a very generous prize. Check it out!

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Happy Saturday!!

At least I hope you’re having a happy Saturday. I am because I’ve just read a terrific book and THERE’S A SEQUEL! I’d heard of the first book and had always intended to read it but, somehow, never got round to it. Luckily, a few days ago, it popped up amongst my recommendations on Amazon so I got it and read it and WOW. I owe Kirby Crow a huge apology for leaving it so long to read Scarlet and the White Wolf.

This fantasy novel is set in a complex world where cultural mores, religion, appearance and morality are all sources of prejudice. Scarlet belongs to a minority at both ends of the social scale – a very few are theocratic rulers of a restless mixed population, the rest are subsisting in small close knit villages as farmers and small scale craftsmen. Incensed by the oppression of the rulers, factions of the population persecute Scarlet’s people and pogroms are frequent.
Scarlet feels at odds with his hidebound family so has become a traveling pedlar, hawking handicrafts and haberdashery from village to village. It’s an adventurous life and Scarlet feels capable of dealing with anything. Then a bandit camps on one of Scarlet’s regular routes and demands toll of all travelers. A massive man with the golden skin and white hair of the far North, Liall, the White Wolf, is a genial rogue and when Scarlet is cheeky to him revises his demand for payment from cold hard cash to a warm soft kiss. Scarlet is outraged, as much by his urge to say ‘oh yes please’ as by the demand, and refuses. And so the dance begins, with Scarlet trying to slip past unkissed, Liall trying to hold his company together, enemies old and new showing up to complicate their lives and the clouds of war gathering.

This story won’t be for everyone because the focus is on the world and its complexities. I’ve seen a couple of accusations of overmuch info dumping, but this is a fantasy world with many races, religions and political entanglements to describe. Tolkien boxed clever by having innocents as heroes. Frodo and Bilbo were totally ignorant of the world outside the Shire and so it made sense for Gandalf to bring them up to speed. In this case all the characters are well aware of the set up so the author has got the information across as effectively as possible without any noticeable “As you know, Bob …” conversations.

As for the romance, Scarlet is deep in denial and Liall is achingly lonely, despite being the revered leader of a cheerful gang of bandits. They fancy each other like crazy but there are REASONS, not least that they are both proud and stubborn, and to my mind there’s nothing wrong with that.

A slow burn romance plus intricate and satisfying world building, I can’t wait to read Mariner’s Luck, the second part of the series.

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comfy chair

My guest today is Pat Nelson Childs, who was born and raised in Rumford, ME. Prior to becoming a writer, he has been a shop owner in Provincetown, a funding coordinator in Fort Lauderdale, and a computer support technician in Ann Arbor. He currently lives in Maine with his faithful cat, Bo, and has just released “Numen’s Trust”, the hotly anticipated finale of his “Chronicles of Firma”  trilogy.


Elin : Can you tell me a little about yourself? For instance, do you have to have a day job as well as being a writer?

First book of the Chronicles of Firmin, currently reduced to $1.99!

Patrick: Well, I was born and raised in Maine, and am living there now. In the past, I’ve lived in many other places – Massachusetts, Michigan, Florida…even Prague for a few months. However, I somehow always end up at my point of origin. It must be because of my family, because I hate the snow. As for work, I am retired on disability now, so my day job is looking out the window and taking care of my cat, Bo. I write for the pure enjoyment of sharing stories with other people…especially LGBT youth, who need all the heroes and role models they can get. If I happen to make a little money at it, so much the better.

Elin : When you aren’t writing, is there any other creative activity you enjoy? Have you ever written about it?

Patrick:  I used to travel a lot, but it’s such a nightmare now that I pretty much stay at home. Reading and writing allow me to see new worlds and meet new people. And of course there’s the internet. Five minutes without that and I’m completely lost.

Elin : What are you reading? Can you recommend something that you wished you’d written yourself?

This edition illustrated by one of my favourite artists, Chris Riddell.

Patrick:  I’m just starting Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book. I love his work and can’t wait to sink my teeth into this one. The book (books) that I wish I’d written myself are Mercedes Lackey’s Last Herald Mage Trilogy. It was this trio of books that inspired me to dust off a twenty year old folder with notes about Firma in it and begin writing my own trilogy because it showed me that epic fantasy with a gay protagonist is not only possible, but also has a market. So if you’re reading this, Mercedes, thanks for the great series and for the kick in the butt.

Elin : In that crucial inspiration stage of a new story which comes first? Plot, situation or character?

Patrick:  Character. Always. I mean, I try to work up strong plots as well, but if I start out with strongly-developed characters, they will always help me drive a plot forward. IF I don’t, then all the clever plotlines in the world aren’t going to breathe life into my story.

Elin : Do your characters arrive fully fledged and ready to fly or do they develop as you work with them? Do you have a crisp mental picture of them or are they more a thought and a feeling than an image?

Patrick:  Well, it depends. I spent twenty years getting to know Rokey and Flaskamper before I even started to outline the plot of The Chronicles of Firma, but that’s an extreme example. Most other characters I’d say I know pretty well from the get go because they are usually either sides of me or composites of people I know. The few that I know very little about I get to know as they grow and are influenced by other situations and characters.

Elin : Is there any genre you would love to write, ditto one you would avoid like a rattlesnake? What inspired you to write about {insert appropriate subject here}?

Patrick:  I wish I could write mysteries…but I can’t. I mean, there’s a pretty good mystery story built into Scion’s Blood, but I think I just lucked out with that. I’ve tried for years to put a good murder mystery together, but I’m just no good at it. As far as I know, there aren’t any genres I’d consciously avoid. I respect them all. I just happen to be good at Sci-Fi and Fantasy.

Elin :  Do you find there to be a lot of structural differences between a relationship driven story and one where the romance is a sub plot?

Patrick:  I’m not sure I can answer that question based on my own experience. In The Chronicles of Firma, the romance element is inseparable from the main story arc. To some readers, it is the main story arc. At a guess, I’d say no, provided you write character-driven stuff like I do. The characters, romantically involved or not, will drive the plotline. That’s probably a terrible answer, but it’s all I got.

Elin : Put together your ideal team of men/women – drawing from all and any walks of life, fictional or non-fictional – who you would want to come to your rescue if menaced by muggers/alligators/fundamentalists?

Patrick:  Well, this calls for a multi-part answer. For muggers, I’d want Spider-Man. Why? Just look at him. For alligators I guess I’d have to have The Gator Boys. They know their way around ‘gators (hence the name), and one of them is kind of sexy. Fundamentalists are easy because God is going to kick their sorry asses anyway.

Elin : Villains are incredibly important in fiction since they challenge the main protagonists and give them something to contend with beyond the tension of a developing relationship. The cruel sea. The serial killer. The society itself. Your hero’s inner demons. What sort of villains do you prize?

Patrick:  Villains of any type for me need to be as complex as the heroes. I just hate one-dimensional characters of any sort. Villains need to act on and be acted upon just like everyone else in a story, and that involves the ability for them to feel, grow and change.  That doesn’t mean all of the villains need to be soft-hearted and squishy. It’s just better for the story I think when something relatable lies behind all their evil deeds.

Elin : What are you working on at the moment? Can you discuss it or do you prefer to keep it a secret until it’s finished.

Patrick:  Right now I am outlining a Sci-Fi / Fantasy novel called Starlander. The protagonist is a 6 foot 8 inch teenaged genius named Jonathan Starlander. If I had to compare it to anything, I’d have to say it’s a little like Horatio Hornblower meets Dune.

Elin : Could we please have an excerpt of something?
Patrick:  Of course. Here’s a bit of Numen’s Trust:


The roof of the hut burned like a torch, as Ellispon and the two scholars hurried to gather together the scrolls and all the notes that covered the table. A chunk of burning debris fell on Bantion, setting his tunic ablaze. In a panic, he screamed and ran out the door.
“Bantion!” Valengyll screamed, and ran out after him, dropping his pile of papers. Ellispon went quickly to gather them up, jumping to dodge another section of the burning roof as it fell. Rokey watched through the doorway as Valengyll tackled Bantion and forced him to roll around on the ground to put the fire out. The elf then leapt up and drew his sword to defend the two of them from a pair of attacking ogres. Groog flew outside and assumed his fiery dragon guise, then swooped down to aid Valengyll. Ellispon rushed over to Rokey, the precious documents clutched to his chest.
“I’ve got everything,” he yelled over the melee. “Let’s go!”
Rokey led the way outside, his sword drawn to protect the old mage. He looked around quickly. There were bodies everywhere, but he saw no other enemy fighters close by, so he hastened to aid Valengyll as he struggled against the ogres.
‘Ellispon!’ he heard Groog send, ‘there is a clear path to a large brush patch straight behind you. Take the documents and hide there with them.’
Though he felt guilty about leaving, Ellispon obeyed without hesitation. In this situation, he knew that he would only be a hindrance. The other three continued to fight, Groog distracting the ogres as the other two engaged them with their swords. The battle did not last long. Rokey’s swordsmanship had grown superb over the years, and Valengyll, though he lacked skill, fought ferociously to protect the injured Bantion. After one ogre had been dispatched and the other had fled, Groog returned to his normal size, while Rokey helped Valengyll carry Bantion, severely burned and moaning in pain, out of the clearing and into the brush patch where Ellispon awaited them. All around, they could hear the battle still raging.
“I’ve got to go find Flash,” Rokey said in a panic.
“Rokey, you can’t,” said Ellispon. “It’s too risky.”
“Master, what would you have me do…just leave him out there?” Rokey protested angrily.
“Rokey, if we lose you, we’ve lost everything,” Ellispon reminded him. “You’ve got to get out of here – open a door to No-When and go. Take these documents with you. If Flaskamper is still alive, he’s already heading this way. If not…if not, then you’d only be throwing your life away for nothing.”
‘Ellispon is right, Rokey,’ Groog sent. ‘You must escape. You are Firma’s only hope. I will fly out and try to find Flaskamper.’
Rokey was about to argue further when Valengyll spoke.
“Is there anything you can do to help Bantion?” he pleaded. “He must be in terrible pain.”
‘I’ll find Flaskamper and tell him where you’re hiding,’ sent Groog, and flew off before Rokey could argue.
Though sick with worry, Rokey found that he could not ignore the young elf’s plea for help. He crawled over to where Valengyll sat with Bantion’s head cradled in his lap. It took Rokey only a moment, though, to realize that Bantion was beyond all help. He broke the news as gently as he could.
“But he can’t be dead,” Valengyll sobbed quietly. “He can’t be. He was – he was my life.”
With these words, Rokey felt his own heart tearing in two, for he knew that Ellispon was right. All around them the woods were beginning to erupt into flames, and they could hear the cries of the dying everywhere. It would be suicide for him to go looking for Flash. On the other hand, just like young Valengyll, he couldn’t imagine going on without his love. A he sat there, stunned and unable to act, Ellispon suddenly seized him by the shoulders.
“You have to go now, son!” he insisted. “All of Firma is depending on you. You have to escape before it’s too late!”
A nearby tree exploded, showering their hiding place with flaming debris. As the dry evergreen needles around them began to smolder, Rokey suddenly felt all of his emotions draining away. Yes, there was only one choice. His own life might be over, but ‘The Scion’ had to go on. There was too much at stake to let his personal feelings cripple him now.
“Very well,” he told Ellispon, “but I need you with me, and you must make Valengyll come too. I need you both to help finish translating the scroll.”
When Ellispon agreed, Rokey closed his eyes and began to reach out to the nearest articulation. He found it nearly impossible to concentrate, but he had performed this task so many times now in practice, it was now much less difficult for him. Still, the process required him to harness and manipulate a tremendous amount of energy, so once the process was underway, Rokey found himself becoming more and more focused on the job at hand. Soon he had constructed a stable doorway for them between two nearby trees.
“Go now, Master,” he told Ellispon. “Take Valengyll.”
The High Mage stood, still holding the valuable papers in his arms.
“Valengyll, you must come with us now,” he commanded gently but sternly.
“No!” said Valengyll defiantly. “I won’t leave him!”
“There will be a time to avenge him, Valengyll,” Ellispon tried. “I swear to you there will be. But now is not that time, son. We need you now. Firma needs you now.”
“You don’t know what you’re asking, Ellispon,” Valengyll said.
I know, Valengyll, Rokey thought, desperately scanning the trees behind them for any sign of the dragon or Flash. I know.
As Ellispon continued trying to persuade the young scholar, Rokey spied a person running toward their burning hut. For a moment, he dared to hope, but as the figure drew closer, his heart sank. It was the Princess Alengra – alone.
“Princess Alengra!” he yelled, shaking off his growing feelings of dread. “This way!”
Alengra turned and ran toward him.
“Where’s Flash?” he asked when she reached him.
“I don’t know!” she cried. “He and Briander went someplace to talk. I was supposed to meet them here, but then the attackers came and –”
Her knees began to buckle. For a moment, Rokey worried she might faint. He could not risk destroying the doorway in order to catch her. Fortunately she recovered herself.
“Leni,” he said, “we have to get out of here. Go through the doorway with my two friends there.” He gestured toward Ellispon and Valengyll.
“Doorway?” said Alengra. “What do you mean?”
Just then Rokey saw a group of enemy fighters break from the trees and start running toward them. There was still no sign of Groog or Flash, but now he could wait no longer.
“Come on!” he yelled, grabbing her arm. Though clearly confused, she accompanied him willingly. “Ellispon! Valengyll! Inside now!”
Ellispon entered the shimmering doorway just ahead of Rokey and Alengra. Valengyll, however, did not follow. Rokey turned back, only to find him rushing, his sword drawn, toward the pack of encroaching soldiers. There was no way any of them could stop him. Valengyll had chosen to stay and fight – to give his life avenging his slain lover. It was a supremely selfish act, and yet, as Rokey pulled the doorway closed, watching the young elf charge fearlessly into the overwhelming onslaught, the emotion he felt most keenly of all – was envy.


The next in the Chronicles of Firmin series:

Numen’s Trust

Seven years have passed on Firma since Rokey’s narrow escape from The Order of the Bone. All of Firma is now at war. The living god, Cyure, and his merciless hordes have succeeded in conquering all other realms save two – the kingdoms of Iceberg and Glacia, far up in the Northern Expanse. As refugees pour into these kingdoms from all over Firma, Rokey, Flash and their companions are working constantly to stay one step ahead of Cyure, who still wants ‘The Scion’ alive in order to steal his awesome, but still largely latent power. Just as things look blackest, High Mage Ellispon and his fellow scholars happen upon a key which at last will enable them to translate the ancient scrolls taken from Moribar years before. It is from these scrolls that they learn of a magical object known simply as “The Heart”, which offers them the means to finally unlock Rokey’s enormous power. The only problem – The Heart is not even in Firma! And so the final quest begins – a race to find this fabled object and to give Rokey the power he needs to confront Cyure at last, saving both the people he loves, and the land that he has already given so much to defend.

Please note: To celebrate the new release Orphan’s Quest will be available from 1st to 7th February at the reduced price of $1.99

The man himself

Buy links:

Orphan’s Quest (Kindle): http://amzn.to/1efkev7
Scion’s Blood (Kindle): http://amzn.to/1lu83wS
Numen’s Trust (Kindle): http://amzn.to/19CrS2S

You can buy hardcover or softcover copies of all three on Amazon, Barnes & Noble or in Patrick’s COF web store (http://bit.ly/1dPiUyz). Here’s a tip: They are MUCH less expensive in Patrick’s web store AND they come signed by the author.

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