Thane clenched his jaw, took two giant steps forward and bent to catch her by the middle. When he straightened, he threw her over his shoulder. His gauntlet armoured fingers dug into her thighs. His swords’ hilts stared back at her, tempting and teasing. Her fingers itched to wrap around the smooth leather and yank one from its sheath.
If you’re going down, go down fighting, her dad’s life motto played in her memory.
If only her hands weren’t bound. Instead, she flopped uselessly as Thane strode toward the gate. His shoulder dug into her stomach and her face smacked against the cold metal back plate of his black armour. She had a perfect view of his ass. Fitting, since he acted like one.
What did she expect? Preferential treatment for a captive? How was she any different than any of the other slaves brought through this portal?
Thane walked unhindered through the thick air. The blue haze cleared. The buzzing stopped.
She wasn’t dead.
Thane pulled her down from his shoulder and set her on her feet in the snow in front of him. Over his shoulder, the other men walked through the gate leading the horses.
Cool air brushed her skin. The winter breeze contained exotic scents of Arkavia, smelling of pine, but different, more floral.
(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique)
In The Night House, death surrounded Taya for much of the story. At the start of this book, Taya lost her friends to a magical blue wave. This blue wave turned many people to ash and made all electronics useless. It was almost the perfect weapon against our civilization.
Taya, now she wielded a weapon that I thought was absolutely brilliant. She stumbled upon two swords that had flashes of blue and white light, which travelled in bolts of lightning from the pommel to tip of blade. Not just anyone could harness its power but Taya could. Whether she was swinging a sword, staff, or knife, Taya impressed me with her fighting skills and her quick thinking. She wasn’t a woman anyone should underestimate.
Thane, from the House of Jericho, was a multi-layered character: fierce, loyal, a great leader and loving. He was likable and so were the soldiers that followed his commands.
I think it’s worth noting, J. C. McKenzie wrote tremendous battle scenes and in these scenes we were able to see the camaraderie between the soldiers. We saw teammates become family, foes became friends, and unbreakable bonds form between many key characters.
Through J. C. McKenzie’s gift of storytelling, readers will fall in love with Taya and Thane as they defy all odds and making their coupling work. Together, they are unstoppable.
J.C. McKenzie is a book-loving, gumboot-wearing, unapologetic science geek. She’s the author of the Carus Series, an urban fantasy five-book saga published by the Wild Rose Press. Born and raised on the West Coast, J. C. sets the majority of her books in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, Canada. She writes urban fantasy and paranormal romance with sassy heroines and brutish, alpha-type men.
It’s the apocalypse. And Feng has a knack for pissing people off.
There are certain things you come to accept when Earth comes closer to its expiry date, like being invaded by bloodthirsty creatures you didn’t even know existed. He just wanted to find his family. Now he’s being hunted.
With the love of his life dead, his family missing and every surviving human on the run, Feng is feeling a bit grouchy. The death, he expected. Her? Not so much.
Meet Diem, an adorable alien healer with boundless curiosity and a glowing crimson mouth. She grew up on stories of Humans but never thought she’d meet one. Now that the opportunity has surfaced, she wishes she never did. Something far more sinister is at play.
The mystery surrounding the fate of the disappearing humans is not all that it seems. What Feng and Diem discover will change everything. For both sides of the war.
But will it allow them to get out alive?
(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique)
This story, overall, contained a lot of information. We learned why the Fringeants were here on Earth, why they hated us, the purpose of their body’s light, the significance of the light’s color, and the lengths they’d go to protect their people. It was almost overwhelming keeping up with everything in the book.
However, despite the overload of information, I will say Heather Chambers (the author) created very unique aliens. They could change their appearance with a pill, attend markets to trade goods, and they also sought out a soul mate. They were like us, fighting to survive. And, like us, they weren’t all bad.
Diem, Fringeant healer, didn’t like violence. She assisted a human (Feng) on more than one occasion and she seemed lonely. She just wanted to be accepted, like many Earth dwellers do. I liked her, even when she hit Feng with books and a frying pan. In her defense, she was scared and trying to defend herself.
The first 200 pages did point out how the Earth was drastically altered from how we see it today in real life. Heather pointed out what could happen if we don’t protect our planet: acid rain, undrinkable water, mutant plants and animals, cities in ruins and the list went on. I’m not sure if Heather actually believes in aliens BUT I do believe she was emphasizing the importance of taking care of Earth before if becomes uninhabitable. I agree, we should protect and preserve our planet for many generations to come.
The next 200+ pages…….
We pick up right after Drachn (Fringeant) shocks the hell out of Feng with a startling and almost unbelievable revelation. The second half of the story also revs up the torture into submission scenes. The Fringeants use water torture, whips, remove body parts, pour hydrochloric acid down throats, and use room 191 to have the humans face their upmost fears and painful memories.
Of course, the Humans fought back. No animal wants to be caged up.
The population of Earth has dwindled down to almost nothing but the final page was a sign of hope.
Before you purchase Earth Sucks: the Fringeants, I must warn you there are some intense exchanges between the Fringeants and the Terrants (humans). However, Heather did add humor and tender, loving moments here and there. I grinned when Feng was teasing Diem about reading Fifty Shades of Grey. The Sun and the Moon story was very romantic. And, I smiled every time Feng called a fellow prisoner Mr. Rogers.
In a world where there was no reason to laugh, Heather Chambers gave the characters and me a reason to smile.
Heather Chambers is a 19-year-old Canadian writer with a knack for exasperating English teachers and dreaming up the macabre. Sarcasm and horror have been her splash-pad since she first learned to write. She brings a keen awareness that one only has to look outside to see it resides not only in fiction. However, some people have closed the curtains. Her debut novel, Earth Sucks, brings teen characters and What Ifs to life for Gen Z readers who want their own writers to throw a wet cat on those blinds.
For those who might not be familiar with you, would you be a dear and tell the readers a little about yourself? How did you get your start in the writing business?
(Ernest)Hi Kameron and thank you so much for this opportunity! A little bit about myself? I’m not sure where to start. On a daily basis I am a Professor of Special Education and Literacy at Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, Maryland. As far as how I got started in the writing business, I think I have always been a writer. Growing up I had a severe speech impediment, which made it difficult for me to talk. So I turned to writing. As a kid I read so many comic books and I would often take stories from the comics I read and re-write the story but with my own characters. I would then share the stories with my mom. From there I think my passion for writing and telling stories just grew.
As the years went by I submitted short stories and received many rejection letters. When I started my Master’s program and then my Ph.D. program in special education I put my creative writing on hold. For obvious reasons. During those programs I learned how to become a more efficient and confident writer. I also started to receive acceptance letters for my academic writing in professional journals. Once I completed my Ph.D. and had some free time on my hands I started submitting my creative pieces once again and started to find some success.
It wasn’t until recently did I discover that I tell a lot of stories. As an educator, I teach by sharing personal stories and experiences I had in the classroom when I was a special education teacher. I believe this helps my students connect the content of the classroom to real-world experiences.
(KAM) Before I became a writer, I too worked in the special education field. It was one of the best jobs I ever had.
Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, please share how you handle it.
(Ernest) I think all writers suffer from some form of writer’s block. However, the writing block manifests itself in different ways. For me my writer’s block is time. As a full-time professor, husband, father of five, and helping with the care of my elderly parents I’m surprised I find time to sleep; let alone write. Therefore, when I do sit down and write it is important for me to be efficient in order to get my thoughts and ideas down. I also think when I am away from the keyboard I am always thinking of my stories or manuscripts that I am writing so when I do sit down to write I already know what I want to say or have worked out the scene in my head and have just been impatiently waiting to get it down on paper. I also have journal notes, post-it notes, draft emails with thoughts and ideas that I want to add to my stories. Sometimes I often wonder how much writing I could get done if I actually had six hours of uninterrupted time to write? But honestly, how I write now works for me.
(KAM) Wow, you are a busy man! And, your creative process sounds like mine. I have notes everywhere. 😀
Will you please share with the visitors what genre(s) you write? Also, when you’re not writing, how to do you spend your time?
(Ernest) What genre I write? That is a really good question. In many ways I am still trying to figure that out myself. I like to tell people I write realistic fiction. Then I get a funny look and they ask me, “You mean you believe in Bigfoot?” Yes, of course I do, that’s why I wrote Spirit of Sasquatch. Maybe a lot of authors don’t admit this (or maybe they do), but we often pull from our own experiences. Most of my stories have some element that happened to me or someone close to me. With that definition I could probably argue my writing is creative nonfiction. However, because my stories contain elements related to the paranormal or cryptid animals most people would have a hard time accepting my stories as creative nonfiction. If you want a technical boring answer, I suppose I write science fiction and paranormal fiction.
When I am not writing, how do I spend my time? I spend a lot of time with my family. My wife and I love to go hiking and camping. We spend a lot of time in the woods. My time in the woods also includes searching for Bigfoot or any other cryptid creature or mystery. I also study mindfulness meditation. Through mindfulness my connection to nature and the world around me has grown deeper over the years. Lastly, I love to read. I’ll read anything. And I love to research ideas and thoughts and learn new things.
I know many writers, such as myself, keep their pastime/career a secret. Do those close to you know you write? If so, what are their thoughts?
(Ernest) Oh I’m an open book! Everyone I know, knows I write. Knows I search for Bigfoot. Knows that I am believe in aliens and that a ghost, named Julie, lives in our house, and that I meditate daily. Even my students know that I write, meditate, and search for the unknown. It’s just who I am. I have nothing to hide.
Granted it took me a few years to get to this point. When I first got into the paranormal and searching for Bigfoot only my close friends and family knew. I never really shared my writing with anyone, except for my wife, Christine. And then one day it all switched. This is who I am. Why hide it? In many ways I think my mindfulness (and Christine) helped me with this switch. To be authentic. To be genuine. To be open. It is honestly a liberating feeling.
(KAM) That’s fantastic news. A good support team is always appreciated in whatever path we choose for ourselves.
Will you share with us your all time favorite authors? If you’re like me, it’s a long list so give us your top ten.
(Ernest) Great question! And it is honestly, an unfair question. However, my list, in no particular order:
If you could choose one book to go to the big screen, yours or otherwise, which book would you choose and whom would you love see casted in the parts?
(Ernest) I believe it is every author’s dream to have their book or books optioned to be a movie. As much as I would love to pick one of my own books I am actually going to pick an obscure book. The book is titled, Voices in the Wilderness by Ron Morehead. This is the true story of how Ron Morehead and some of his friends “captured” the sound of Bigfoot in the Sierra Nevada mountain range back in the 1970’s. The story is captivating and the evidence is intriguing. However, I would want the movie made with a serious intention. Not a half-hearted, half-joke mentality. As far as an actor goes, not sure. I’m not up to speed on current actors and Hollywood stars. It’s been a few years since I watched TV or the movies.
Would you care to tell us what you’re working on now? That is if it’s not top-secret information. If so, just whisper it in my ear. I swear it’ll go no further.
(Ernest) Nothing is top secret. However, I won’t tell you the story because I would then lose the motivation behind writing the story. I am working on a novel that takes place in the world of Spirit of Sasquatch. I always liked how Robert Heinlein and Stephen King have their novels set in the same world and sometimes characters and places bleed over to other stories. In Spirit of Sasquatch there were a couple characters I wanted to develop further. In truth, they were knocking around in my head and wanted me to expand their stories further after I finished Spirit of Sasquatch. So with this new writing project I am doing just that. They will be stand-alone stories, but could be read in sequence.
Where can we find your stories and is there a particular reading order?
(Ernest) There is no particular reading order for any of the stories I currently have out on the market. Spirit of Sasquatch is available as an ebook for Kindle and print. The ebook can be found on Amazon.com and the print book can be located with any of the booksellers. Readers can also contact me through my Spirit of Sasquatch Facebook page if they want to purchase a signed copy.
The Well Houseis a different kind of ghost story and is currently only available as an ebook for Kindle. A print version will be released later this year at the annual Mothman Festival in Point Pleasant, West Virginia.
Lucy is a young girl who loves her Pa, their cow, and the little farmhouse she calls home. She also loves the red bicycle that Harvey gave her as a present. But not all is idyllic, and she struggles to steer clear of the local transient, Joe-Michael.
Gannon and Farrah move to Lucy’s family farm many years after Joe-Michael became Lucy’s father’s farmhand. Together, Gannon and Farrah hear Lucy’s voice for the first time on an audio recorder hidden in the woods near the old family homestead. Even though their lives are separated by decades, they intersect at the pond where the secrets have been submerged by Joe-Michael.
Blurring the lines between time and space, Lucy shares her tale with Gannon and Farrah in an unconventional turn of events.
And sadly, Two Moons Rising is currently out of print. However, I do have limited copies. I’m hoping to bring Two Moons Rising back on the market by September of 2019.
Would you please share how your present and future fans can contact you?
(Ernest) Ha ha! Fans. That makes me smile. I’m just thrilled when someone reads my stuff. Honestly, I love chatting with my fans about writing and books in general. To talk about my own work is still unbelievable to me. I can be reached through my Spirit of Sasquatch Facebook page or on Goodreads.com. But let’s be honest, my name is pretty unique and a Google search will probably lead them to my teaching position at the Mount. Either way works for me.
Before we conclude this enlightening interview, do you have anything else you’d like to share? The stage is all yours.
(Ernest) Thank you Kameron for taking the time to ask these wonderful questions and giving me a stage to share a small part of my story. I am truly grateful for your love of books and wanting to help authors gain a wider audience.
(KAM) Now that you’ve read Ernest Solar’s interview, we ask that you stick around to read my review of Spirit of Sasquatch and to learn details on how you can WINASIGNED PAPERBACK.
~~ PRIZE ~~
Trevor Blackwood lost his wife to the mythical creature known as Bigfoot and never came to terms with her disappearance. It’s been over a decade since she vanished, but time hasn’t stopped Trevor and his sons Darius and Brock from searching for her and the creatures responsible for her disappearance. In fact, their adamant hunting has given the Blackwood trio a reputation – one that’s caught the attention of government forces with ulterior motives.
After the youngest Blackwood goes missing, like his mother, the line between myth and reality is quickly blurred. Brock soon discovers the secrets that shroud the feared beast. Hunted by the government and sought by his father, the young boy discovers the truth behind his mother’s disappearance at the hands of a menacing Sasquatch. The true nature of the Blackwood family legacy is revealed when the threads of Brock’s life crashes together in a devastating confrontation with the government and the legendary creature known as Bigfoot.
(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique)
There are a multitude of individuals who believe Sasquatch is real. Teams hunt for the elusive creature. People share captured images of the mysterious beast. However, there’s no solid proof it exists……yet.
Whether you believe in the legend of Bigfoot or not, I think you’ll enjoy reading Spirit of Sasquatch.
There were some interesting theories regarding their classification and abilities. We also learned how the “hairy giants” were feared and respected by all Native American tribes.
Despite the fact I found the story drab at times, one thing I did appreciate regarding Spirit of Sasquatch was some of the humans were the real beasts of the story and the Sasquatch were the loving protectors of the forest.
Now, time for a few of my favorite moments.
Sookum (Bigfoot) skipping rocks with Brock (human). Sookum tossed a boulder though. 😀
Numyc versus the bear.
“Next time be a damn tree!”
You’ll understand #3 once you’ve read the book.
With that said… Don’t be a tree, leave and go get this book.
Ernest will be gifting ONE SIGNED COPY to a lucky person who comments on his interview. Say HI, tell us if you believe in Bigfoot or not, or tell us if you have every encountered the mysterious creature.
One entry per person.
Due to shipping costs, this contest is only available to those living in the continental United States.
Contest ends: May 23rd, midnight (central time)
Winner selected: May 24th via a comment from me on this the comment thread.
If you are not comfortable giving out your mailing address, you can always choose a kindle copy instead.
Now, whatcha waiting for…. LEAVE US A COMMENT. Tell your family and friends to enter. And, GOOD LUCK to you all!
Note from the author, Jeffrey L. Kohanek: A Kingdom Under Siege is available now through the Wardens of Issalia boxed set (see link below). It’s also available to purchase on its own in print format (see link below). Mark your calendars because on May 14th, you can download it to your e-readers.
~~ On sale for only $0.99 until May 10th! ~~
1,300 pages of MAGIC, SECRETS, INTRIGUE, and BETRAYAL ________________________________________________________________________ An enemy nation rises, fueled by subterfuge, assassinations, and fire-powered weapons. A team of young agents must infiltrate and eliminate this threat before all is lost.
Includes the COMPLETE Wardens of Issalia series — novels that combine forover 75 5-star Amazon reviews and 150 Goodreads 5-star ratings.
An enemy threatens the kingdoms of Issalia, bent on conquest with the desire to vanquish Chaos magic forever.
The Empire has returned. Assassinations, subterfuge, and betrayal have fueled a rapid rise to power – a rise backed by fire-powered weapons. This enemy army swells with superior numbers and threatens the western kingdoms of Issalia.
With King Brock gone, the domination of Issalia is merely a matter of time.
The wardens, agents from a clandestine organization known as ICON, work in secret to stop this radical enemy. Trained as spies, warriors, rangers, inventors, and magic-users, the wardens have successfully reduced the enemy threat, but by doing so, they leave the Empire no choice.
War is certain. The attack is coming soon.
The kingdoms must stand against the Imperial Army’s advanced weapons and superior numbers. The wardens and Chaos magic offer slim hope, but a leader is required to achieve victory – a legend whom many believe is dead.
Join the battle. The fate of Issalia hangs in the balance.
The ship continued to rock from side to side, the motion beginning to affect Brock as nausea set in. He opened his eyes, folded the map, and slipped it into his pocket as he made for the door.
Stepping outside, he found the sails filled with the gusting wind and the snow changed to a steady drizzle. Two ships ran even with the Razor while the other five in the armada trailed behind. To the port side, Brock then noticed another fleet nestled in a protected bay.
Brock turned and climbed the quarterdeck as sailors scurried about the distant narrow-bodied longships. “Ri Star? What are they doing down here?”
The Ri Starian crafts raised anchor, the oars at their sides moving the longships toward deeper water as the Razor and the trailing armada sailed past. Tenzi called for another sailor to take the helm while she dug out a tube with glass on each end. She aimed the tube toward the ships, looking through it as the Ri Starian vessels unfurled their sails.
With shock, she gasped. “Flash cannons! They plan to attack!”
Considering what he knew of Ri Star, Brock recalled his previous interactions with Queen Olvaria. In his two decades as King of Kantaria, he had only met Olvaria three times. Despite her polite exterior, Brock had always sensed a hard edge to the woman. She often argued that her queendom was small and lacked resources. If not for their diamond mines, Ri Star had little bargaining power when it came to trade.
With Ri Star consisting of nothing but Ilsands nestled in dangerous waters, they had naturally developed Issalia’s premier navy. Manned by tough, experienced sailors and a crew of oarsmen below deck, Ri Starian longships were the fastest in the world. Having those vessels armed with flash cannons was a frightening prospect.
A flash of green fire and a puff of smoke billowed from the lead Ri Starian ship. A boom followed, and a projectile hit the trailing vessel of the Torin armada, sending a blast of splinters into the air.
“This is bad.” Brock’s tone was grim. “Queen Olvaria has thrown her lot in with the Empire.”
Another longship fired, also striking the trailing Torin ship, this time near the waterline. The wounded vessel rocked, tilted to one side, and turned toward shore, but it was too late. The ship was sinking while sailors and passengers scrambled for the lifeboat.
“We have to stop them!” Brock put his hand on Tenzi’s shoulder. “Slow down so the rest of the armada can pass us.”
She turned back toward the enemy fleet. “Once we are in range, they are going to fire at us.”
“I know, but I don’t have a choice. Just trust me.”
“Fine.” With her face in a scowl, Tenzi bellowed out orders, sending sailors up the masts to lower the upper sails.
Brock leaped down to the main deck where he spotted Stein. The man stood at the rail watching the trailing ships, his attention shifting toward Brock as he drew close.
“Stein! I need you to run below deck and instruct the other arcanists to begin applying Reduce Gravity augmentations to the deck. I want a large rune drawn near the bow, one in the middle, and one near the quarterdeck. Have them stack augmentations.”
“Stack them? You know what will happen.” Stein’s expression revealed his doubt.
“Just do it.”
As Stein ran to the stairs and disappeared below deck, Brock darted back to Tenzi’s cabin. He burst in and searched the room, his gaze falling on the small, round table bolted to the floor. With his boot heel against it, he gave it a shove but it didn’t move. He then picked up the chair and swung hard. The chair smashed into the table, scattering broken wood pieces onto the bed and across the floor. Brock gripped the tilted tabletop and lifted, tearing it off the base with a loud crack. He then set the tabletop on the floor and began to carve a symbol into the wood with the tip of his dagger. Once finished, he picked up the tabletop and ran back outside.
The drizzling rain continued, driven by the wind and leaving the deck slick. Razor had fallen behind most of the fleet, and the last remaining vessel was nearly upon them. Stein and the nine other arcanists were on deck with a group at the bow, a group in the center, and a group right beside Brock, near the stern. A man in the nearest group hurriedly traced a symbol with a chunk of coal. The diameter of the rune was half the width of the ship.
“Be sure to get the symbol exact!” Brock warned. “A misdrawn rune will kill us all!”
Still clutching the three-foot diameter table, Brock scrambled up the stairs to find the Ri Starian fleet less than a quarter-mile behind them.
“Tenzi!” he hollered. “Raise the sails the moment you see this rune activate!”
Without waiting, he closed his eyes and embraced the anxiety of the moment. The raw and angry energy of Chaos surrounded him, and he drew it in as easily as drawing a breath. Within seconds, a raging torrent of raw power surged throughout his body, threatening to tear him apart. Brock opened his eyes and gazed upon the rune he had etched into the table. It flared to life with a fiery glow, and Tenzi commanded her crew to raise the sails.
Brock ran across the quarterdeck and, with a grunt, threw the tabletop toward the Ri Starian fleet. It spun like a disc, the charged rune etched in the wood pulsing and fading as the tabletop struck the water.
A boom and a blast of green flame burst from a cannon on the bow of the nearest enemy vessel, launching a metal ball toward Razor. The projectile hit just below the quarterdeck with a massive crack that sent Brock, Broland, and Tenzi stumbling. It smashed through the rear of the captain’s cabin and emerged out the other side, destroying the quarterdeck stairs in a burst of splintered wood.
“No! Not again!” Tenzi roared in frustration.
The floating tabletop then turned pure white and the churning ocean around it began to freeze. A thunderous crack came from the ice and it expanded in a roar of pops and snaps. The air over the center turned the drizzle to snow that thickened into a swirling localized blizzard.
Razor rocked and began to rise out of the water, sending those on board stumbling as the craft lifted upward. Brock leaned against the rearmost rail and watched the expanding ring of ice race toward them, far faster than the ship sailed. He glanced backward to see the Reduce Gravity runes on the deck, again pulsing with the next augmentation about to take hold.
“Come on. Just a little more lift,” he urged, nervous that the ice would reach them too soon.
The ship lurched and rose up higher, tilting as the hull came out of the water and the wind pushed against the sails. Broland fell into Brock, both of them rolling across the quarterdeck until they wedged against the port side rail. Tenzi held tight to the wheel. The sailors and arcanists toppled to the deck, many sliding across it before slamming into the rail. A sailor on the main mast slipped, spun, and dangled by a rope briefly before falling into the ocean.
Brock pulled himself up and peeked over the rail. The ice ring had expanded beyond their position, the ocean now a white, choppy, uneven surface of frozen waves. The trailing fleet crashed into the ice in a massive collision, damaging hulls and launching crew members overboard. The sailors who landed on the ice did not move.
As the Razor floated away, tilted at a hard angle a hundred feet above the ocean, the ice continued to expand. In the distance. Brock spotted a lifeboat from the sinking Torin vessel, fighting the churning waves as it headed toward land. Between him and the ship, the sea had become an island of ice, two miles in diameter. Ten Ri Starian longships were locked in the ice and would remain there until the augmentation expired. Even then, Brock suspected that most of those vessels were too damaged to make it to shore. Those ships will no longer be a problem.
“That was too close,” Broland said.
“I can’t steer!” Tenzi spun the wheel with no response. “The rudder is useless! We are drifting toward the cliffs!” She cupped her hands to her mouth and bellowed, “Lower the sails!”
Tenzi leaped off the quarterdeck and ran toward the main mast, which was unmanned. The sailors in the other two masts worked frantically to lower the sails while Tenzi scaled the main mast. Brock climbed his way up the angled deck to the starboard rail and looked down. They had passed most of the fleet with only the lead ship still ahead of them.
“Broland, follow me.” Brock leaped over the broken stairs and landed on the main deck, almost falling on the slippery, tilted surface.
With Broland following, Brock bolted to the closet beside the galley and opened the door to reveal three ballistae, three-foot long bolts, and long coils of rope. As the sails came down, the deck began to level, making it easier to stand.
Joely appeared beside the door. “What can I do?”
“Both of you, help me with this,” Brock said as he lifted one of the heavy ballistae.
Once the weapon was out the door, Brock returned to the closet, grabbed two coils of heavy rope, and threw one over each shoulder before scooping up a ballista bolt with a grappling hook on the end.
“Broland, Joely, Stein,” Brock said as he moved past them. ”Carry the ballista to the bow.”
As the trio scrambled to pick up the ballista, Brock looked up to find only the lowest sails still unfurled. The ship had slowed and leveled but was still headed toward the cliffs.
With Broland, Joely, and Stein in tow, Brock led them to the prow. The Razor was now even with the leading ship – the craft a few hundred feet to the starboard side and a hundred feet below them. Kneeling, Brock tied the two coils of rope together and then tied one end to a massive cleat normally used when docking. As he secured the other end to the eyelet on the ballista bolt, he issued instructions.
“Rest the ballista on the rail and hold tight.” He turned to Joely. “You know this weapon. We only get one shot. Make it count.”
Joely nodded, eyeing his target while Brock cranked the launch mechanism back, inserted the bolt into the ballista, and held on tight.
Joely tilted the ballista upward and moved it slightly to the right. He pulled the release trigger, and the bolt launched, the recoil sending Brock, Broland, and Stein stumbling to the deck. The coil of rope rapidly unwound as it slid over the rail, chasing the projectile.
Brock scrambled to his feet and watched the bolt fly toward the other ship. It hit a sail, tearing it. Reaching the end of the rope, the grappling hook recoiled and leaped backward, spinning around the main mast before latching on. The rope drew tight and the Razor lurched, causing everyone on board to stagger.
Razor’s prow dipped and tilted toward the ship towing them. Their direction altered slightly, but the cliffside was approaching fast. The cliff drew close…too close to avoid. A deep grinding sound came from the hull. Razor lurched and shook as it scraped across the cliff face. Moments later, the sound ceased and the ship slipped free.
A glance over the rail provided a wave of relief. They had cleared the obstruction and were now heading toward open waters. Brock wiped his brow and turned to find Tenzi glaring at him, her fists on her hips.
“What’s wrong?” he asked.
“I have a hole in my ship, thanks to you.” She gestured back at her cabin and the broken stairs.
Looking through the opening, Brock was able to see the cliffs behind them, slipping into the distance. “Yes. I’m sorry about that.”
Tenzi crossed her arms and stared north, toward the trapped longships, now appearing as dark specs in a field of white. After a moment, she sighed. “I know you did your best. I just wish they would stop firing flash cannons at my ship.”
Brock moved closer and put his hand on her shoulder. “I’m sorry, Tenzi. However, look around you. We are a hundred feet above the water. You may have a hole in your cabin, but I am willing to bet that Razor is also the first flying ship. Ever. It should make a great story next time you’re having drinks with other sailors.”
A conflict of ideals – magic versus fire-powered weapons. The fate of Issalia hangs in the balance.
A new Empire has risen to power. Already in control of the east coast, the Imperial Army sets its sights on Issalia’s western kingdoms. Tensions rise as both sides prepare for war.
What deadly weapon will the Empire develop next?
Brandt and Quinn are espions – part spy, part thief, part assassin. Under false identities, these spies find themselves deeply entrenched within Empire headquarters. There, they gather information, seeking a means to foil the Empire’s plans for conquest.
One misstep by either warden could result in death – their own and thousands of others.
They are joined by a small squad of fellow wardens:
Wildcats – warriors trained to fight while powered by magic
Rangers – experts in nature, these archers scout enemy forces
Gadgeteers – engineers who invent magic-powered machines and weapons
Arcanists – those who can wield Chaos – a destructive, rune-based magic
Driven by the core belief that Chaos magic is evil, the Empire seeks to stamp out this scourge. If victorious, Chaos will be outlawed. Those who can wield it…will be executed.
The game is afoot – a game like no other. The world is my Ratio Bellicus board. The game pieces are real people with hopes and dreams and lives they believe they control. I know the truth of it – a truth my peers don’t even acknowledge.
While my enemy hides their pieces from me, I know the hand that moves them. In that knowledge, I have an advantage. My opponent’s motivation remains clear and they believe in that clarity. They see Chaos as evil. I see it as a tool, not so different from a knife. A knife can carve beauty from wood, slice an apple, or stab someone through the heart. How the tool is used defines its purpose. Magic is no different.
To my opponent, my hand remains hidden – my game pieces and their abilities unknown to them. Within this subterfuge, I study and consider, and I scheme. I shift a game piece here and move another there. The game pieces used are as important as the schemes guiding them.
My prodigy and her counterpart now dwell inside enemy headquarters, feeding from a well of misguided trust as they prepare for an act of betrayal. Sometimes, piercing your opponent’s heart actually becomes the knife’s purpose.
There may soon come a time where I become an active participant rather than simply the hand that directs others. When the time comes, my enemy best beware that I am well versed in knives and betrayal. Beware the hidden assassin, for a successful Imperial Gambit hinges on the placement of such a game piece.
From the journals of Master Espion, Delvin Garber
Natasha, Amazon Customer, 5⭐: OMG this series by is so good! It just keeps getting better and better. Idk how he does it but Kohanek is able to create such vivid imagery that I just get lost in his books. And I love all the characters! Quinn is by far my favorite though. I admire strong, loyal, brilliant women and Quinn is a character every girl and woman should look up too. All the other characters are wonderfully dynamic and admirable too so there’s never a lack of of that hopeful feeling. The world building is perfectly balanced and there’s enough action to keep things interesting but enough intrigue to keep me guessing. I wasn’t able to predict any of the big moments about this book which is so refreshing. I can’t wait to continue this series and read everything else Kohanek writes!
illidia, Amazon Customer, 5⭐: Jeffrey Kohanek has written another gem in An Imperial Gambit. The books in this series just keep getting better and better. I loved reading about the continuing adventures of my favorite characters and seeing them grow. I can’t wait for the next book in the series!
Megan, Goodreads Contributor, 4⭐: Another great one in the series
This book is another great addition in the Wardens series. It is the best book so far and I like that the books keep getting better as the stakes for the characters keep getting higher.
This book focuses more on missions for various Wardens as well as some development of weaponry at the Ward. The story strikes a very good balance between these with all the events being directly related to the overall plot. There are no filler missions or filler characters which I really liked. Most of the book focuses on Quinn and Brandt. Their story is extremely interesting and somewhat unpredictable. The banter between. Them as well as Chuli and Jonah is quite entertaining. This book definitely builds up the tension between the Empire and everywhere else and I can’t wait to see what happens next.
Fiona, Goodreads Contributor, 5⭐: As always another awesome adventure written in glourious wide sweeps of imagination. A world full of all sorts of people who are fighting to end the rule of a corrupt section of people. The characters are well written and described. The world of Issalia rocks. I love all of Mr Kohanek’s books. I highly recommend grabbing a copy of this series, curling up with your favourite beverage and lose yourself in a fabulous series.