Twins by Kim Iverson Headlee

 

 

TWINS

The Dragon’s Dove Chronicles, the Novella Genesis of Book 6

by Kim Iverson Headlee

Genre: Epic Historical Fantasy

From the award-winning, critically acclaimed pen of Kim Iverson Headlee comes the fall of Camelot as you have never seen it before.The death of their mother knells the death of any hope for a joyful future for Gyan’s identical twin daughters, Gwenhwyfar and Gwenhwyfach. Their father, Arthur the High King, wastes no time in announcing firstborn Gwenhwyfar’s betrothal to Medraut—the man whom Gwenhwyfach secretly loves. And Gwenhwyfar is in love with Angusel’s son Lannchu.

The twins conspire to defy Fate and trade places. They know how ambitious is their scheme, for Gwenhwyfar is trained in the domestic arts and Gwenhwyfach has chosen the warrior’s path, yet the sisters are confident of success. The wedding and its accompanying night come off without a hitch… for both of them.

Fate, however, shall not be defied.

Incorporating ancient Welsh legends of the “False Guinevere” and “Feasting the Hungry Man,” and featuring many characters introduced in DawnflightMorning’s Journey, and Raging Sea, this glimpse into their destiny, thirty years after the setting of those novels, reveals the destruction of Arthur’s realm that’s unique in all of Arthurian literature.

Praise for other Arthurian works by Kim Iverson Headlee:

“Intense.” USA Today (Dawnflight)

“Solidly entertaining.” Publishers Weekly (King Arthur’s Sister in Washington’s Court)

 

Continue reading “Twins by Kim Iverson Headlee”

Blood of the King by Bruce Blake

BLOOD OF THE KING

Khirro’s Journey Book 1by

Bruce Blake
GENRE: Epic Fantasy


A kingdom torn by war.
A curse whispered by dying lips. A hero born against his will. Khirro never wanted to be anything more than the farmer he was born to be, but a Shaman’s curse binds him to the fallen king and his life changes forever. Driven by the Shaman’s dying words, Khirro’s journey pits him against an army of the dead, sends him through haunted lands, and thrusts him into the jaws of beasts he wouldn’t have believed existed. In one hand he carries the Shaman’s enchanted sword, a weapon he can barely use; in the other he holds a vial of the king’s blood, the hope of the kingdom. His destination: the Necromancer’s keep in the cursed land of Lakesh. Only the mysterious outlaw magician can raise the king from the dead to save them all from the undead invasion, but can Khirro live long enough to deliver the vial?
Can a coward save a kingdom?
“Help me.”
Khirro flinched. The king’s plea came again, a breathy whisper barely audible above the sounds of battle. Chickens ran about after their heads were removed, but nothing could speak without life remaining within. Khirro shifted painfully onto his side.
“My king,” he whispered.
Braymon lay in a tangled heap, hips wrenched farther than possible, one arm pinned beneath him, the other twisted behind. Blood streamed from his shaven head onto his cheeks and into his eyes, a mask of red through which little flesh showed. He blinked clearing his vision, a slow, lethargic movement, then directed his gaze toward Khirro. A pained smile twitched his lips; it quickly turned to a grimace.
“I thought you lost, lad.”
The blood drained from Khirro’s cheeks.
“No, your highness. I… I was knocked unconscious. I’ve only just woken to find you here beside me.” The lie tasted more bitter than the coppery tang of blood on his tongue.
Braymon coughed a fine spray of bloody spittle. Khirro knew it meant something inside him was bleeding.
“I’ve not much time. I need your help.”
“I owe you my life.”
“Then you can return the favor.”
Fear lumped into a mass at the back of Khirro’s throat. “What can I do?”
“The healer will know I’ve fallen,” Braymon said coughing again, face strained with the effort. “Take me to him.”
Relief. He didn’t ask to be avenged or dragged back to the battle to die a soldier’s death. Khirro glanced at the blood pooling beneath the king’s contorted body, flowing from some unseen spot under his plate mail, and pushed himself up to kneel beside Braymon to better assess his condition. The battle raged above but no one appeared on the stair.
“You shouldn’t be moved,” Khirro said after consideration. The way the king’s body twisted upon itself made him feel sick. “It would mean your life.”
Braymon shook his head minutely. “It matters not. I must get to the healer before the warmth has left my body or all is lost.”
“I don’t think–”
“Soldier,” Braymon said with a tone of command befitting a king. “If you do this thing, all else will be forgiven.”
Khirro gaped at the king’s words. He fought to keep tears at bay as guilt siphoned the strength from his limbs. His mouth moved trying to form the words to apologize for not rejoining the fight, to beg forgiveness, to explain, but his constricted throat choked them. Instead, he nodded.
SPIRIT OF THE KING


A shattered vial. A failed journey. Two spirits joined as one.
An army of dead men led by a sorceress with an unquenchable lust for power occupies the kingdom of Erechania. The kingdom’s traitor-king seeks to redeem himself, but the sorceress has stolen his son, his last reminder of the wife he lost. Neither the king nor his enemy can know the importance of the role the child will play.
The Necromancer’s last act of magic joined a fallen king’s spirit with Khirro’s, making him the vessel carrying the kingdom’s hope. But the haunted land of Lakesh, the outlaw city of Poltghasa, and the enemy country of Kanos lie between him and his homeland. Dangerous creatures and murderous men seek to end his quest, but he is also stalked by something far deadlier:
An assassin he once loved.
HEART OF THE KING


It began with a vial of blood, a curse, and a quest to a haunted land.
It continued through a strange subterranean land and a city of the damned, where an assassin raised from the dead sought to end it all while a sorceress invaded his home.
Now, Khirro’s Journey comes to its end.
A king’s spirit. A coward’s heart. Together, a kingdom’s last hope.
Sheyndust, the Archon, desires to be Necromancer and wield dark magic the likes of which the world has never seen. For years, her deadly plan has fallen into place piece by piece, treachery by treachery, death by death. With her enemies on their knees and an army of the dead at her command, nothing stands between her and the ultimate power for which she thirsts.
Nothing except a farmer and a dead king.
The curse that bound Khirro to his task was broken when the blood of the king spilled, but the king’s spirit–a tyger of vengeful flame–burns bright within him. It pushes Khirro through hostile lands to return to his home. It pushes him to be more than he ever thought he could be despite the doubt and fear devouring him. It pushes him in a race against time to save the kingdom, a race he is bound to lose.
As the final pieces of the Archon’s plot fall into place, and her power and army grow, it looks certain that all will be lost.
Unless a coward can look inside himself and find the heart of a king.
Bruce Blake lives on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. When pressing issues like shovelling snow and building igloos don’t take up his spare time, Bruce can be found taking the dog sled to the nearest coffee shop to work on his short stories and novels.
Actually, Victoria, B.C. is only a couple hours north of Seattle, Wash., where more rain is seen than snow. Since snow isn’t really a pressing issue, Bruce spends more time trying to remember to leave the “u” out of words like “colour” and “neighbour” than he does shovelling (and watch out for those pesky double l’s). The father of two, Bruce is also the trophy husband of a burlesque diva. 

Strife of the Mighty by Julius Bailey

 

STRIFE OF THE MIGHTY

 AUTHOR: Julius Bailey
GENRE: Epic Fantasy






A HUSBAND. A LIQUOR LOVER. A STRANGER. THE DIREST ADVENTURE OF THEIR CENTURY.


For over fifteen hundred years the kingdom of Vrandalin has withstood the might of the one enemy they had need to fear. Now a new threat arises. In the southeastern part of the land, a grim-looking newcomer arrives in the village of Varalel, bringing with him a warning of imminent ruin. Shortly afterward, Varalel is stormed, its folk scattered, and one man is separated from the woman he loves. 


Little else matters to Allon Bracken than reuniting with his wife. With nowhere else to turn, he must place his faith in a gruff, mysterious man he knows little of, and an unexpected comrade. But his road is a hard one, and will lead him into dangers and discoveries that will change everything. 


It is likely safe to assume that the silver-haired man did not expect events to take such a swift turn when he hasted to Varalel with his warning. But there is no time to curse ill fate. Extenuating circumstances compel him to share Allon’s road—unless it is the other way around—but he quickly finds himself with another goal: the capital must be warned. An army out of legend stamps through the land, goaded by an age-old enchantress with designs of destruction. Time is short. But he must look to himself as well, for a hunted man is rarely at rest, and the terrible creatures that pursue him do not sleep. 


And for a former traveling trinket seller deemed village ‘softhead’ by his peers, things are suddenly very horrible indeed. Or are they? It seems that chaos brings folk together. Joined to Allon’s path by an inner impulse, he discovers a companionship he did not expect to find. He will need it. 


Enter Vrandalin; a land where ancient powers stir, dark beasts prowl, forgotten lore returns, and those who are thought weak discover their strength.
Brandegan quickened his run. Ahead of him the lights had begun to recede, melting into the night like wraiths. There were no more shouts either. All around silence again crept forward. Just before he could reach them, the last of the fires vanished. Brandegan was just about to dash after them, but something halted him. The heavy forestry round about was still, too still. Brandegan became aware of an intense watchfulness, and as he listened, a shroud of dread descended upon him.
Suddenly he felt, rather than saw, a shadow shift beside him. Next moment, he was hurled forward, heaved from the earth as though he was weightless, and tossed like a wind-blasted reed. Hardly had he struck the ground when a dark weight fell on him, crushing him down. He heard a snarl, and then four enormous claws, sharp as blades, raked his side. He fought back, lashing out with Rithlir, but a great, hirsute paw gripped his arm and, with a massive strength, pinned it to the ground.
Then Brandegan saw the eyes. Hovering just before his face, they shone as red fire, feeding the darkness with their terror and harboring within them the insatiable spirit of the Dread Palace. Even as they gazed down on their prey, the malice behind those eyes was kindled to sudden wrath, for here at last was their scourge, here at last was the thorn long sought.
But just before teeth as deadly as the edge of Rithlir found their mark, there was a dazzling flash. Shadows leapt up and fled, the darkness was pushed back, and in that moment Brandegan’s adversary was revealed. Greater in stature than any beast of the wild stood Daugruil. As other Gragmarr, his forelegs loomed up, broad and strong. His back, arching downward near his hind-legs, was covered in coarse, crimson fur, and his great muzzle was lined with dagger-edged teeth. Now he stumbled backward, thwarted from his intent by the blinding, silver flare.
Brandegan leapt to his feet as soon as the weight was lifted. His side throbbed in agony, and blood had already soaked through his raiment. But he heeded it not. The insatiable spirit of malice that burned in the eyes of this Gragmarr he knew.
✯✯✯✯✯There’s a long historical background to the world of this book, full of names I can’t pronounce and creatures I’ve never imagined before. The landscape changes as the characters take their journey. Cultures and characters change from place to place, and magic is everywhere. A fascinating read! The pace is steady, though there were times (during battles, mostly) when I couldn’t put this book down without feeling unsatisfied. The highlights of this novel, for me, were the instances where the characters are able to interact without speaking, the parts that made me laugh (thank you Merch!).
My favorite character is Merch. His strength is born of love for his friends, which I admire. Allon is another favorite, mostly because of his appreciation & love for his wife.
PS. I purchased two copies as gifts and Amazon let me download the Kindle version for free because of that. Pretty sweet perk! Thanks, Amazon. =) (I don’t know if 2 copies is the minimum for this deal). By Sarah on March 25, 2015 Verified Purchase


✯✯✯✯✯Strife of the Mighty: Book One of the Chronicles of Vrandalin has everything I expect from a traditionally styled epic fantasy. The story features dark beasts chasing the heroes, swords that may just be a bit magical, a journey fraught with danger, a little love, a little tragedy, and, of course, an epic battle to top it all off.
I love the pairing of two regular guys with the mysterious traveler. It’s always fun for me to follow the perspective of the unlikely hero, or heroes in this case. Allon and Merch were great, and Brandegan is the epitome of the timeless wizard or epic warrior, reminding me strongly of favorite characters from other fantasies I adore. Then again, I kept picturing them as hobbits tagging along after a ranger, though I think that was from more of a vibe than any particular feature.
The pacing of this story was great, fast when it needed to be fast, and slower when it needed to be slower. I thought the fights were pretty well choreographed and exciting. Danger seems to fade out, letting the adventurers get a little comfortable, and then there comes some kind of beast or other enemy. But what I liked most about these impromptu battles was how they all actually move the plot along. They all do in some way. Most in a big way.
Playing counterpart to the fights and chases, and like many of the more traditional fantasies, this one features fanciful detours into lore, poetry and song. I read most of them, but I must admit I skipped through one of the songs. It was nice that these little offshoots were in italics, easy to identify. I imagine some could be skimmed through, but I wouldn’t recommend doing so for those related to the history of the world; otherwise, you won’t know who or what’s important later in the book when the myths start getting a little less mythical.
Also like many stories in the genre, it has its fair share of words and phrases that I’m sure I butchered, but most weren’t too baffling. There’s a pronunciation guide at the back for those who like to be sure of such things, but I preferred to just wing it. And on the same note, the language starts off a little flowery and formal, as though trying very hard to proclaim, “I am fantasy.” Luckily, it didn’t seem to stay that way. I’m not certain if that’s because I got used to it or because it laid off a bit when the plot got going.
So, overall, I really liked this story. I’d recommend it for folks who like a good, solid traditional fantasy with plenty of adventure, intriguing characters and a well-thought plot. By Trish (I read too much!) on October 19, 2015


Adventurer, wonderer and wanderer, creative thinker and eccentrically unconventional, Julius Bailey tends to tread the peculiar paths. Born to the humidity, tropical sights, and gators of Florida, he lived in the Sunshine State for fourteen years of his life before moving to the rolling hills and red clay of Oklahoma. At the age of twelve he fell in love with a book called ‘The Secrets of Droon: The Hidden Stairs and the Magic Carpet.’ From thence his love of reading bloomed. Having taken a keen interest in the fantastical realms of Fantasy, his jaunts mainly focus thitherward. He currently resides upon a hilltop thronged with hilltops, and avidly welcomes communication from his readers.

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