Day of the Horn by Chris J Edwards | Book Blitz

Day of the Horn
Chris J Edwards
Publication date: October 15th 2020
Genres: Fantasy

A kidnapped princess.

A reluctant mercenary.

A shamed prince.

Far in the west, isolated from the weary world beyond, lies the sylfolk kingdom of Céin Urthia – a woodland realm of ancient forests and sunlit meadows. But this kingdom cannot remain secluded forever; for Princess Dawn, heiress to the throne, has been

mysteriously abducted. Not even her kidnapper, a mercenary battle-mage, knows who ordered it – or

why. A fevered pursuit begins as the High King commands every servant of the crown to rescue

her, even the disgraced and imprisoned Herace the Shamed. But even as he and his companions follow in wild pursuit, Princess Dawn herself must decide – does she even want to be saved?

Meanwhile, powers beyond the sight of the court plot under cover of darkness – for not all wish

to see the princess safely home…

As civil war darkens the horizon, will Princess Dawn save her beloved home, or will unseen enemies win the day?

EXCERPT:

Gentle sunlight glowed upon the faun’s face. Willow branches cast their slender shadows onto the grassy banks of the spring, shading us from the gilded morning light.

She looked peaceful there as I knelt over her; she was asleep, head nestled in the dewy grass. I had heard so much about this Princess Dawn – and now I was finally seeing her.

I had heard she lived in a secluded kingdom, somewhere bright and beautiful. A realm of vibrant flowers and alluring aromas, quiet green places latticed by cool, meandering streams. A perfect place, as perfect in its natural beauty as it was in its isolation.

And I heard that, on a perfectly calm morning in this perfectly nestled kingdom, the child that would be called Dawn was born in the idyllic splendour of the realm’s very heart. That she was raised in seclusion, away from the evil and want and sadness of the world beyond that verdant countryside.

I heard that her parents, the rightful king and queen, ensured she live a honeyed life. That Dawn would never have to experience the meanness, the savagery, the brutality of the world beyond. That hers was a youth of sweet smells and pleasant breezes and laughter under the greenest bowers of the kingdom of Céin Urthia.

One could certainly envy Dawn, her happy youth, her blessed inheritance, the Sacred ground of which she was one day to be sovereign.

I, however, did not envy her.

I did not envy Princess Dawn. Not as I knelt over her, not as she lay enchanted beside her private spring, beneath the sightless gaze of the royal keep.

I looked up to the surrounding garden and waved my riders over; as silent as prowling cats the uyrguks slunk out from the brush. I gestured to the sleeping princess. Wordlessly they bound her, picked her up.

I cast a gaze up to the keep. No curtains in the windows stirred; no guards looked down from the battlements. There was nothing to fear; Naraya was safe. Naraya was the capital. And the princess could look after herself.

I smiled. My, had they been wrong.

The uyrguks carried the princess through the garden and slung her over the back of my horse. Then, after a moment lingering in the garden as all was still and the sun was rising, I followed after them.

Steam plumed from the horses’ nostrils in the cool spring air. I was cold too; my clothes were damp from the morning dew. It had been a long, long night of lying in wait.

I mounted up and my riders did the same. I surveyed the garden, the private spring, the imposing shoulders of the royal keep. Still no one stirred; clearly my careful preparation was paying off. No guards, no handmaidens, no attendants… the perfect kidnapping.

I looked back at Princess Dawn, slung like a slain deer behind me, antlers and all. The perfect kidnapping.

I smiled to myself, relieved that my task was coming to fruition, my debts that much closer to absolution.

Then I looked up to the sun crawling steadily over the teeth of faraway mountains.

The princess was mine. It was almost all over. The cool sense of relief that washed through me matched the crisp spring breeze.

I spurred my horse and rode away.


Author Bio:

Chris J Edwards is a Canadian author of fantasy novels. Formally educated in history, informally educated in poetry, Chris now spends time writing fiction.

Guardian of the Sky Realms by Gerry Huntman | Blog Tour & Author Interview

Book Name: Guardian of the Sky Realms
Author: Gerry Huntman
Genres: Young Adult, Urban Fantasy
Publication date: September 1st, 2020
Published By: Meerkat Press
Book Acquired: ARC, Publisher
Ratings: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Synopsis:

Maree Webster—an “almost-emo” from the western suburbs of Sydney—hates school, has few friends, and is obsessed with angels and fallen angel stories. Life is boring until she decides to steal a famous painting from a small art gallery that has been haunting her dreams: swirling reds, grays and oranges of barely discernible winged figures. There, she meets a stranger who claims to know her and stumbles into a world where cities float in the sky, and daemons roam the barren, magma-spewing crags of the land far below. And all is not well—Maree is turning into something she loves but at the same time, fears. Most fearful of all is the prospect of losing her identity—what makes her Maree, and more importantly, what makes her human. Guardian of the Sky Realms takes the reader on a journey through exotic fantasy lands, as well as across the globe, from Sydney to Paris, from the Himalayas to Manhattan. At its heart, it is a novel about transformation. Book two of the series will be released in 2021.

My Interview with the Author:

1) Tell us something about yourself that no one knows. A funny secret perhaps?

I’ve been on this planet long enough to have done some silly and stupid things, and have had the odd moment of bad luck. More the former, mind you. While my youth was not entirely misspent, I can give you a little story from when I was about 20. Christmas Eve, going with the boys out for some partying and (insensibly) heavy drinking. At that time scotch and sodas were my preference. Knowing that the bar we went to would close around midnight, I gave the bartender a bottle of whisky to look after for me, and to hand over when I left. This worked perfectly, and instead of being moderate, youthful male silliness took over and in the next half hour I glugged half the bottle. Messed up. Big time. Somehow, I ended up sleeping on the lounge room floor of one of my friend’s (read: his parents’) home. The parents didn’t know I was there, and when they saw me the next morning, and my colour (bluey-white, apparently), they called an ambulance thinking I had died. I was just fast asleep. It took quite a while to shrug off this event among my friends, and to get over the embarrassment with my friend’s parents.

2) When did you start writing?

I actually had the creative urge when I was about 11 or 12 years old. So much so, that I insidiously wrote creative writing stories for some of my friends at school, passing them off as theirs. I also remember, again around that age, sending several short stories (typed and snail-mailed) to a publisher, and receiving a reply (a rejection that very kindly said that they loved the stories and look forward to seeing more work when I was older). When I was in my teens I moved my creative urge to role-playing, and was very active in the field for many years, writing scenarios for conventions and publications. While not ‘writing’ per se, it was a very good apprenticeship, building many of the skills that I use today. I only seriously pursued writing as an adult about 15 years ago.

3) What was the source of inspiration for this book?

Guardian of the Sky Realms is an outlier for me, as I don’t often write juvenile fiction. I was in a fantastic writers group for a number of years and we had a weekly challenge, where each of us took turns setting up challenges to write short stories or vignettes. We could set a task specifically, or ask everyone to write a story based on a photograph, or art piece, or even a song. One such challenge was an abstract painting by a very talented Californian artist, and it instantly inspired me to write a story about a teenage girl who was obsessed with that same painting (albeit in a fictional setting). It was a short piece, and ended with the girl entering an amazing world, through the painting that acted as a portal. It was inspiring enough for me to fairly rapidly convert it into a book.

4) If given a chance to co-author a book with another author, who would it be and why?

I have many author-friends and it makes sense, if I were to imagine a co-operate effort, to consider one of them. One such friend is Jack Dann, who is a giant in the speculative fiction field, and you could say that we are very good pals. I would absolutely love to collaborate with him, and it would definitely be a mature reading piece.

5) If you could be any character from Guardian of the Sky Realms, who would you be and why?

It’s hard to bypass the main protagonist of Guardian of the Sky Realms, Maree. The story is really about her, and she gets the greatest challenges, and is key to these challenges being overcome. This is a middle grade book, focused on adventure, and she is the adventure. By being Maree, I would witness almost the entire tableaux of the story, dive into the moments of sadness and despair, and soar with her successes.

6) Do you prefer hard copies or soft copies while reading?

I prefer hard copies when I read. I really can’t tell you if it is largely related to my generation or not, but I can say that when I read I love holding the entire story in my hands, and being able to read easily lying down, sitting, and so forth.

7) What is your favourite scene from the book?

My favourite scene from Guardian of the Sky Realms is the one that usually makes me a bit teary. Without wanting to give too much away, there is a scene where an important character dies, and another character, a French-speaking gargoyle, sticks with this dying person until the end, despite putting his life at risk. The whole point of this scene, aside from the sad ending and sacrifice of a character, is the point that love is the most important motivator of all. The gargoyle loved this character, and would never abandon a true friend.

8) Your ultimate top 5 books.

Gosh, the toughest question, and always has been. I’ll answer in the context of different periods of my life, to reflect how they influenced me, and my further reading and writing.

  1. The Adventure series by Willard Price – my first exposure to non-graphical stories, and full of escapism and adventure. Written in the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s in the main, they were also products of their time – very much boy’s own adventures. South Seas Adventure was by far the best. This catalyzed my love for reading.
  2. The Lensmen series by E.E. ‘Doc’ Smith – again, old stuff but resurrected in the 70’s with the pulp fiction boom, and amazing, cosmic space opera. I read this stuff in my early teens and just lapped it up, and it consolidated my love for speculative fiction and escapism. The first book Triplanetary, is noteworthy.
  3. The Forever War by Joe Haldeman was the first speculative fiction piece I read (sci-fi to be exact) that didn’t just draw me into the story, but made me think beyond the plot to the extent that I wanted to write like that. I was still in my teens when I read this, and I have a special place in my heart for the novel. A few years ago I had the pleasure of having dinner with Joe and his wife (among others) in Baltimore and had the opportunity to talk about it with him. 
  4. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R Tolkein. Well, I’m probably not alone, but through my teen years and even into adulthood, this book transported me more effectively into another, imaginary world more than any other. I have read this trilogy more times than any other book or set of books, by a long shot.
  5. I’m very conscious of the lack of female writers in the list thus far, and certainly the first two or three were a product of my environment in the seventies. It’d be wrong, however, to say that I didn’t read superb female writers and many were among my favourites throughout my life, if not, in fact, taking on the greater number of, say, my top 200. Ursula LeGuin, Shirley Jackson, N. K. Jemesin, Katherine Kerr, and the list goes on. All contributed to my enjoyment of this wonderful field. However, if I were to look back at a book or series that, again, had more of an influence on my life than most, and that can be added to the ‘top 5’, I would say the Saga of Pliocene Exile by Julian May fits the bill, and most notably The Many-Colored Land.

9) Are you working on any new projects? When will we see them?

Since becoming a full time writer, my output and my list of projects have grown. Aside from keeping my short story writing simmering on an ongoing basis, the next manuscript I’m due to complete is the sequel to Guardian of the Sky Realms (titled Champion of the Sky Realms) which will be released by Meerkat Press in 2021. I have a mature-reader Fantasy novel near completed, but needing a lot of revision, and I have plans for a science fiction/horror piece which will require a lot of research before the word production can commence. My goal is to see a title come out a year from 2020 onward.

10) Do you have a routine that motivates you? Can you share it with our readers?

I’m answering this question during Stage 4 lock down in the city that I live in, due to COVID-19. It does change routines and it coincided with me turning to full-time writing and publishing. Nevertheless, I have a framework that works for me, and I know will settle better once we are over the pandemic hump. For me, writing every week morning – putting in a good 4 or 5 hours each time, is the backbone of my routine, and generally I will do my publishing work in the afternoons. Weekends are normally set aside for non-professional activities, including the most important family time. When the inspiration in my writing runs hot, then the rules can be broken, but it is a case of making it the exception rather than the rule. 


Author Bio:

Gerry Huntman is  a writer and publisher based in Melbourne Australia, living with his wife and young daughter. He has sold over 50 short fiction pieces, most of which are dark and for mature audiences, but he also has a love for middle grade fiction. He loves travel and gets many of his story ideas from distant lands and culture, but is equally happy with the cafe set in his hometown.

Sirens, Pirates, Mermen and More…

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

“A prince may be the subject of myth and legend,” he explains, “but he can’t live in them. He should live in the real world, where he can create them.” He looks solemn. “You should pay less mind to fairy tales, Elian, or that’s all you’ll become.”

When he leaves, I think about whether that would be awful, or beautiful. Could it really be such a bad thing, to become a story whispered to children in the dead of night? A song they sing to one another while they play.

The literary fiction world is being dominated by YA authors popping in on the scene left right and center. Amidst this overcrowded genre, the sub-genre of retold fairy tales has carved a niche for itself and authors like Sarah J. Maas and Renee Ahdieh have ensured that mark won’t fade away with the passing of time.

While eloquent authors have deftly embedded plots of Cinderella, Beauty & the Beast and more in their works, the story of Ariel was overlooked by many.

Not anymore.

Alexandra Christo‘s debut novel To Kill A Kingdom will steal your heart with the emotions it brings forth. She beautifully creates a world where sirens, mermen and mermaids exist along with humans. Midas is the mightiest of the hundred kingdoms on land and the sea is ruled by one Sea Queen.

Sirens that steal human hearts with nothing but cruelty in their own and a prince that has vowed to end the deadliest siren of all. A mother that prides her crown over her daughter and a father who’s considerable riches aren’t enough to keep his son home. A princess with no land to call home and desire to be queen in the middle of it all. All tied together with the thirst to know more of the legend that promises an end to The Prince’s Bane and bring peace between the land sea.

It’s so easy to get swept by the brilliance of Christo’s writing that I overlooked the lack of development in the novel. It definitely feels too short. Too many characters that haven’t been given the attention they deserve. The novel focuses on singular aspects of the siren princess Lira and pirate Prince Elian of Midas throughout the book. Elian’s advisors aren’t given enough space to develop and as he travels through the seas, the very few characters introduced are portrayed with importance yet not given the same gravity in their time in the novel. Elian’s ace – Princess Yukiko in my opinion is another novel just waiting to happen (Alexandra Christo if you ever read this – HINT).

While the story feels rushed, Christo’s writing style and the plot itself makes the book an interesting and fun read. How did the battle between the land and sea end? We recommend reading the book to find out!