Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Windwalker: Forbidden Flight (The Aeternum Chronicles, Book 0) by H.G. Chambers

Release date: April 24, 2018
Subgenre: YA Fantasy

About Windwalker: Forbidden Flight:

 

Sixteen-year-old Kiva Fariq has always dreamed of soaring on the four-winged raptors that scour the desert skies. But the windwalker sect is closed off to women. What's more, it's said the deadly predators can only be bonded by men.

Undeterred, Kiva attempts the deadly windwalker trials in secret. Should she survive, she will face an even greater challenge: bonding a raptor of her own. When signs of an ancient enemy appear upon the plains, she desires more than ever to protect her people. But the threat is closer than anyone realizes, and will soon bury them all in a tomb of sand and stone—unless she can stop it.

 

Excerpt:

 

Kiva glanced up, and spotted it—a cavernous opening in the rock face. She had nearly reached the entrance to the kiraeen roosting grounds.
I made it! she thought triumphantly. Sitting with her legs dangling over the edge, Kiva took another drink, and waved to the crowd below. She could hear the faint sound of half-hearted cheering as the curious onlookers grew in number.
A black shape swooped into her peripheral. Kiva had just enough time to leap back out of the way. A great kiraeen thumped down into the tunnel entrance, onto the spot she had been sitting seconds ago. Kiva’s heart pounded in her chest. A few paces away, the creature studied her with beady orange eyes, set just above a large, razor sharp onyx beak. Several red feathers, angled back on its forehead, stood starkly against the black covering the rest of its body.
Screeok!
Kiva grimaced, ducking her head at the deafening sound. She looked into its eyes, meeting its gaze directly. Never before had she seen one this close before. The kiraeen was hunched over in the tunnel entrance, forward weight resting on the bent leading edges of its great feathered wings. Black talons extended out from where the wings met the ground.
It’s beautiful, Kiva thought with wonder.
Sahl,” she said in a soothing tone, holding up her hand. She held her other hand over the khanjar dagger at her belt.
Sahl,” she said again.
The creature tilted its head, eying her with curiosity. Kiva took a step forward. The kiraeen took up nearly the entire tunnel. If it attacked in here, she might be able to outmaneuver it.
The beast must have also been aware of the disadvantage. It leapt backwards out of the tunnel entrance. Kiva ran to the edge of the opening and watched as it spread its great wings, and soared back up into the sky.
Kiva swallowed. There would be many more of them up above, where she would face the second test of her unlawful challenge. She turned, continuing deeper into the tunnel, and came to a set of rough stairs, carved from the rock. She followed the curving staircase, which eventually led to an overhead opening. Bright sunlight streamed through it, illuminating the last few steps. Kiva cautiously ascended, peeking her head up through the opening.
The sight she beheld stole the breath from her lungs. She had reached the top of the walls of Madina Basin. The roosting grounds of the windwalker kiraeen. Before her stretched a path with great jutting stone formations rising up on either side. Lodged into the rocks were dozens of kiraeen nests, constructed from sticks, shrubs, bones, and the skins of their prey. Many of the nests were empty, however there were still several occupied with formidable beasts.

 

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About H.G. Chambers

Harold George Chambers is an award winning fantasy science fiction author. He’s also a dad, helicopter pilot, web designer, musician, and a huge board game nerd. Inspired by the great fantasy sci-fi authors of the past and present, Harold published Recreance, the first book of The Aeternum Chronicles, in 2017. The story continues with Vigilance, released early 2018. Harold makes his home in a small Canadian town on Vancouver Island with his wife and two-year-old son.

 

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Monday, April 23, 2018

The Knight's Secret (The Mage Conspiracy, Book 1) by Jeffrey Bardwell

Release date: April 8, 2018
Subgenre: Epic fantasy, Dark fantasy

About The Knight's Secret:

 

Sir Corbin, the retired Hero of Jerkum Pass, rides on one last adventure with the aid of a magic ring. The knight’s quest takes him to the capital of the Iron Empire. The city is in an uproar. The emperor has been slain by rogue mages. The new empress is livid. Soon all mages are suspect . . . including Corbin’s daughter.

Corbin attempts to find allies among his old regiment. The army has become a slithering nest of vipers as imperial mages and cavalrymen move warily around each other. Both sides snare Corbin in tight coils of suspicion, politics, and lies. The hero is caught between a steamy tryst with a jilted mage ex-lover and the tight-lipped scheme of an ex-buddy in the cavalry. When the vengeful empress launches a vendetta against all mage kind, Corbin must decide whether to save his family or preserve the empire.

Only his towering reputation holds the looming conflict at bay. Unfortunately, Sir Corbin is neither the man nor the hero he pretends to be. Unravel The Knight’s Secret, the first fantasy romance of The Mage Conspiracy series. Join the adventure of self discovery, lurid entanglements, and political intrigue where lies cut deeper than any sword.

 

Excerpt:

 

I rapped my knuckles on the brass and moved the dial to its original position. “Old model here,” I said. “Seems in want of some repair.”
They're heavy to move, sir, and repair costs dear.”
An old story flashed through my mind. In the days of my youth, I had strapped one of these infernal contraptions to my back once. Then I lugged the thing into battle and saved the day. I reached over and patted the brass edifice, keeping the ring at a distance. “Heavy indeed. I know from personal experience.”
The innkeeper nodded and turned to select a key off the rack behind the counter. He offered it to me.
No need to ready a room.” I waved him away and flashed a smile that was unfortunately more gums than teeth. “I'll bunk down with my horse. Done it often enough on past campaigns.”
Past campaigns, sir?” He placed a disturbing emphasis on the word 'past.' The little man dusted the wood with the corner of his apron as his eyes flickered past my tin dress armor and ornate cape. I could see the obvious thoughts marching through his skull. I was dressed more for a ball than a battle. “Surely, you cannot expect us to house a gentlemen of your mature years and advanced . . .”
Just what is he implying? I propped my elbows on the counter and glared at the innkeeper. It was the dark, cloudy expression I borrowed from my son-in-law. The skinny, little miser always looked like a storm was about to break across his face when he caught someone in the family daring to spend coins instead of earning them. I had certainly seen that glare often enough to mimic it: those hooded eyes, that angry, slanted brow, and a forehead you could use as a washboard.
. . . stature,” the man coughed, “with the horses? The Hero of Jerkum Pass cannot sleep in a barn.”
The sheer nerve of this man. Does he think that older heroes are too delicate for straw beds?
The innkeeper turned and clapped his hands. “Marie! The finest silken sheets for our guest. And a bath. Don't spare the aromatic salts. And heat up the finest sweet porridge . . .” His voice dropped off when he turned back and saw my face glowering a flyspeck away from his sweaty brow.
Porridge?” I drummed my fingers on the counter. “Do you serve such filth to every soldier of the empire who walks through your doors? Or just the heroes?”
Marie,” the man squealed. “Only the finest cuts of the pork haunch roasting on the spit for our illustrious guest.”
I nodded and turned towards the door. My hand froze in the act of gathering my kit when I heard the man whispering.
Well-roasted and tender, mind you. Be sure to trim the blackened, gristly bits. And maybe some soft peas and mashed potatoes on the side?” As I whipped around, the innkeeper smiled. “We shall prepare a feast fit for a . . . hero. Now, if you head up the stairs to your room, sir, I believe Marie has drawn you a nice, hot bath.”

 

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About Jeffrey Bardwell:

Jeffrey Bardwell writes dark fantasy, romance fantasy, and steampunk set in the Metal vs. Magic Universe. His character-driven books are guaranteed to include elements of gritty realism, political intrigue, romantic entanglements, dry wit, and dragons in differing proportions. He devours fantasy and science fiction novels and is most comfortable basking near a warm wood stove. When not writing, Jeffrey enjoys cooking, gardening, and shooing baby dragons from the compost bin.

The author lives on a farm and in a prior life worked as a community ecologist. He is overfond of puns and alliterations. He is also an unabashed history and mythology buff. He himself is not buff.

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Saturday, April 21, 2018

Perimeter (Joe Ballen, Book 2) by David M. Kelly

Release date: April 21, 2018
Subgenre: Science fiction thriller, Space colonisation

About Perimeter:

 

PERIMETER - Deceit has no boundaries
 
Joe Ballen’s working on a new ore-processing platform in the harsh environment around Mercury. When a savage Atoll attack decimates his crew, Joe is injured and must return to Earth to recover. While it’s a setback for the project, at least it means he can rebuild his relationship with his wife after nearly a year away.

But then the security forces come calling. Vital starship engineering files are missing, and without them Earth has no hope of escaping Atoll domination. Someone has to locate the files, and Ballen is bulldozed into the not-so-choice assignment.

But he’s not the only one in the hunt. As Joe struggles to find the data, he becomes tangled up in a high-stakes game of cat and mouse. It’s a journey that will take him to the perilous depths of space, where no one is quite what they seem. Can old enemies ever make good allies? And can Joe trust even the people closest to him?

Ballen’s back in another action-packed sci-fi noir thriller, guaranteed to keep you turning the pages.

 

Excerpt:

 

I waited while Delacort thought about it. Running on batteries would mean the railguns and lasers would be useless after a few shots and, unless we got impossibly lucky, there'd be nothing left of us except for a cloud of trace elements drifting slowly inward to fry in the Sun. I knew he'd want to make a stand, his tightly muscled jawline delivered that message clearly.
"We have to be able to fight. Forty-eight rockets aren't going to save us on their own," he finally said.
"Forty-eight rockets, four railguns and two lasers doesn't sound much more effective."
Delacort lifted his chin. "Do you have an alternative?"
"Sure. Surrender. The Atolls don't want to kill us, they want to confine us. If we turn ourselves in they'll either hold us or send us back to Earth. Knowing how much they hate us, I imagine they'll send us home with our collective tails between our legs."
Delacort stiffened. "You're a coward."
Why is self-preservation always dismissed as cowardice? After surviving what I'd been through a few years earlier, was it any surprise I didn't feel like offering myself on the altar of destruction once again? "You're the one with the military background. What chance do we have? We're on a space station. We can't avoid their attacks or do any fancy escape orbits. We have limited weapons and a small crew. But they can maneuver freely and outgun us at least ten to one. If we had a fighting chance I'd raise a flag on the ramparts myself, but this is suicide."
"We might get lucky."
I nodded slowly. "Has Central dispatched a rescue ship yet?"
"What? No. Why would they? Nothing's happened. SecOps doesn't have ships waiting in line to nanny a bunch of nervous engineers."
The truth was we didn't have any ships to speak of, but that wasn't relevant to the point I was making. "They know our situation—we have virtually no chance of winning this fight. Some might survive in the Rabbit Hole, but you know how limited the time frame is. Earth could send a ship now to pick up the pieces, but they haven't. Why?"
I let him ponder the question and come to his own conclusions. Picking up my comm-set, I signaled Isabell.
"Prepare everyone to head for the Rabbit Hole. There's an Atoll ship on the way and they're not looking to get a tan."
Isabell sounded calm. "How long?"
"Eight hours, maybe."
"Will do."
Isabell disconnected, and I looked back at Delacort. He pulled a cloth from his pocket and mopped his forehead. "Central doesn't expect anyone to be left here. You're right."
"I'm glad you saw sense." I moved towards the hatch. "Let's get to the radio room and broadcast our surrender."
"That's not what I mean. Charge all the batteries and capacitors to full. We'll need everything we've got."
I groaned. Why couldn't things go the easy way? Just once.

 

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About David M. Kelly:

David M. Kelly writes intelligent, action-packed science fiction. He is the author of the Joe Ballen sci-fi thriller series and the short story collection Dead Reckoning And Other Stories. He has been published in Canadian SF magazine Neo-opsis.

David’s interest in science and technology began early. At the age of six his parents allowed him to stay up late into the night to watch the television broadcast of Neil Armstrong stepping on to the surface of the moon. From that day he was hooked on everything related to science and space.

An avid reader, he worked his way through the contents of the mobile library that visited his street, progressing through YA titles (or ‘juveniles’ as they were known back then) on to the classics of Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, and Harry Harrison.

David worked for many years in project management and software development. Along the way his interests have included IPSC combat (target) pistol shooting, crew chief on a drag racing team, and several years as bass player/vocalist in a heavy rock band. He also managed to fit in some real work in manual jobs from digging ditches and work on production lines to loading trucks in a haulage company.

Originally from the wild and woolly region of Yorkshire, England, David emigrated to Canada in 2005 and settled in Northern Ontario with his patient and supportive wife, Hilary. Foot surgery in 2014 temporarily curtailed many of his favourite activities – hiking, camping, piloting his own personal starfighter (otherwise known as a Corvette ZR-1). But on the plus side, it meant a transition from the world of IT into life as a full-time writer—an opportunity he grasped enthusiastically.

David is passionate about science, especially astronomy and physics, and is a rabid science news follower. Never short of an opinion, David writes about science and technology on his blog davidmkelly.net. He has supported various charity projects such as the Smithsonian’s Reboot The Suit and the Lowell Observatory Pluto Telescope Restoration. He also contributes to citizen science projects such as SETI@home.

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