Andy Peloquin

I am an artist – words are my palette

Author: Andy Peloquin (Page 2 of 55)

button-1531109_960_720

If You Read This, Let Me Know

As I take on more and more writing projects (new novels, short stories, collections/anthologies, etc.), I have to find ways to “trim the fat” from my life. With only so many hours in a day, it’s tough to know where I should be focusing my time and efforts.

For close to three years now, I’ve been trying to keep up with this blog as faithfully as possible. The two to four blog posts I write a week are time-consuming, but I always thought of them as an important part of being an author.

But in analyzing the web traffic I’ve been receiving over the last few months, I’m not certain I should keep up with the regular blogging efforts. So I’m asking you to let me know what you think:

Should I keep posting regularly?

If you read my blog posts, drop a comment below or on whatever social media page you found this on. Let me know that you read even SOME of the posts I share on this blog.

This isn’t a cry for attention (heh) or a way to pat myself on the back. I want to be certain that everything I share is quality, and if the blog posts aren’t where it’s at, I will focus my efforts on other content to share.

So, if you read this blog post, let me know. Even a one word comment will do. If my blog posts make a difference to even just a few people, I’m happy to continue posting.

Alternative:

If you haven’t been reading any/many of my blog posts, I’d like to know why and what I can do to make them more appealing and engaging.

  • What sort of content would you like to read? What topics?
  • Longer or shorter posts?
  • More/less frequent?

Thank you!

 

Backfire1 print

Book Review: Backfire by Philipp Kessler

For today’s Book Review Wednesday, I’m stepping outside my fantasy/sci-fi comfort zone and reviewing something a bit unusual: a story of pagan magick in modern society!

Backfire

It was a simple protection spell, what could possibly go wrong? Everything and then some!

Sandra Blackwell wants to help her friend find peace and protection after a nasty break up. Little did she know that Elaine’s home was already under protection – if you call flickering lights and depression protection. After the bulbs begin to blow and they realize something has backfired, they battle their own mental and emotional demons to fix what Sandra did. Two Egyptian Gods play with Sandra’s understanding of who she is and Elaine is floating in her own personal limbo after the blow up of her relationship and the backfire of a well intentioned spell. Can they fix things without it all blow up in their faces?

The first in a series of stories following Sandra and Elaine, Backfire introduces the characters and establishes their life together. Friends since middle school, the two are now getting established in their careers. Magick, love, and unexpected happenings follow them all over the place.

My Review: 4 Stars

I found this an utterly fascinating book! While many other novels skirt the issue of spell-casting and magick, this felt more like a how-to primer on the concepts. I walked away from the reading knowing a lot bit more about paganism, the pagan lifestyle, belief system, and practices. It had me curious and wanting to find out what else I can learn. Definitely going to keep reading the next books to delve more into pagan practices!

There’s not a whole lot in the way of action or suspense—just two women trying to find out what went wrong with the spell. There was a lot of interesting concepts presented through the pages of the novel, offering information without cramming the belief system or practices down a reader’s throat. Well-presented, thoughtfully laid out, and set in an interesting (if slow-moving) story.

100% worth the read for anyone interested in learning more about paganism!

Here’s a Taste:

Sandra opened the window a crack to let a bit of fresh air into the room. The incense smoke swirled in the breeze as it was sucked out the window. As the air cleared she blinked the smoke from her own eyes.

“Well that sucked,” she muttered under her breath. “Back to square one.” She pushed her hair away from her forehead, brushing the sweat away from her brow.

She looked about the now smoke free room and sighed. Picking up the athame she began to put her ritual and spell tools away. Sandra put each tool into its place in the box she pulled out from under the altar table. The wand, the incense burner, and the athame each had a special compartment in the ornately carved oak box. As she put the pentacle plate and the bowl into their pouches she gazed into her own reflection in the blade of the boline.

The curved blade, shaped like a crescent, was affixed to a piece of deer antler. The antler was hand carved with delicate Celtic knot work and the blade itself had been hand forged by her grandfather. Her eyes were captured in the blade’s surface, reflecting back her own frustration at the failed spell. Her hand shook a little and she broke her own personal staring match.

“Oh, stop it!” she admonished herself. “No sense in crying over spilt milk.”

She tucked the boline away into its pouch and picked up the simple silver chalice she preferred to use for her personal workings. Her gaze went to her reflection in the curved metal and she paused. What she saw in that reflection was different from the narrow bladed reflection of the boline. She could see more than just her eyes. She could see the frown of her lips and the smudge of soot on her nose where she had touched her face after snuffing out the candles with her dampened fingertips. The smudge made her grin a little and as she watched her lips twist in the curve of the chalice she couldn’t help but giggle at the image. The giggle soon turned into a laugh.

She took up a small terry towel and wiped out the chalice before placing it into the box as well. All the while laughing to herself.

“Hmm. Wonder what I did wrong this time.” She shook her head and made sure that she had placed all the tools in the box before closing it and putting it back under the altar. “Too much sandalwood in the incense? Or what is it the wrong color for the candles?” She wrinkled her brow with thought and picked up the remains of the failed spell materials. A bit of burnt twine, blackened parchment, and a small cracked quartz. She brushed it all into her hand and got up from the pillow on the floor.

As she left the small room she used for rituals, spell work, and meditation it was as if she walked from one world into another. Her bearing and attitude changed as soon as she stepped over the threshold. She hurried off to the kitchen and dumped the remains of the spell materials into the trash before washing her hands at the sink. She wiped the smudge from her nose with the dampened towel and filled a glass with water from the tap.

Her phone made a beep. Picking it up she saw that her best friend Elaine was texting her.
U AVAIL?

YES. WHAT UP?

WEIRDNESS AROUND HERE. WAT U DID?

WAT U MEAN?

THINGS WEIRD HERE. SAW U IN CORNER OF EYE & THINGS WENT WEIRD.

??? SAW ME?

YES. IN CORNER OF EYE. WEIRD!

VOICE?!
Sandra’s phone rang in reply to her last text. “What do you mean you saw me? I’ve been here all afternoon.”

“I saw you out of the corner of my eye. I did. And then everything started to go weird.”

“What do you mean weird?”

“The light in the bathroom blew as I saw you out of the corner of my eye. It was like catching a glimpse of you in the mirror and then boom! The light bulb blew. Scared the shit of me, I tell you!”

“Wow, I imagine. You said things went weird. More than just the blown bulb?”

“Oh, yeah! A lot more. I ran out of the bathroom, scared the shit of me. Almost literally. The lights were flickering in the whole apartment. What did you do?!”

“I, uh…” she hesitated. Elaine knew she was a witch, but trying to explain magick to her was not always easy. “I just tried to cast a spell. It didn’t work.”

“Didn’t work? Elaine asked. “What on Earth were you trying to do?” Her tone of voice was enough to convince Sandra that she wasn’t going to have to explain much about magick. At least not just yet.

“I was trying to bring you peace,” she replied flatly.

“You call this peace?” her tone was almost accusatory.

“No. I said the spell failed. Nothing seemed to happen on my end.” Sandra was grasping for an explanation in her own mind. She cast a spell for peace in Elaine’s life and nothing seemed to happen.

“Girl! Something happened here on my end!” Elaine’s voice rose in pitch a notch and her volume was increasing. “What the hell were you doing!?”

“I did what I always do. I made my Circle, laid out my tools and worked the spell. Other than a lot of choking incense smoke, nothing happened. Nothing,” she was really at a loss here.  She couldn’t fathom that a simple spell for something positive would cause anything to go wrong, let alone on the other side of town.

“Okay. Let’s take a breath.” She could hear her friend take a deep breath and exhale loudly over the cell’s speaker. Instinctively she did the same thing. “Now, tell me exactly what you did.”

“But you don’t believe in magick.”

About the Author

Philipp Kessler is a man of many hats.  An accomplished High Priest in the Covenant of Kernunnos Tradition, Phil has been an active practitioner for 25 years and has followed his passion for knowledge by climbing the ivory tower of the written word, from some of the oldest available works to modern, in the moment writings.

This desire for knowledge has led him to change his hat to pursue another passion, which is broadcasting.  He has been co-host of the longest-running pagan radio show, Murphy’s Magic Mess, for 8 and a half years and has been co-host of Pagan Musings on Blog Talk Radio for 8 years and Pagan Weekly News, also available on Blog Talk Radio, for 5 years and co-host of Lavender Hill, a weekly LGBTQIA news show on KZUM public radio for 6 years.

Phil donned his reviewers cap and became a regular contributor to Green Egg magazine and his leadership cap led him to being published in Pagan Leadership Anthology: An Exploration of Leadership and Community in Paganism and Polytheism edit by Shauna Aura Knight and Taylor Ellwood.
Phil changes his hat again and is an editor and the founder of Saturn Returns Publishing.

He turns around again, changing his hat as he does, and he is an author of pagan fiction & poetry, with many stories in different genres (from horror to speculative historical fiction) in the works. His first title in the Dark of the Moon, New Beginnings series, Backfire, came out on April 1, 2017, quickly followed by volume two in that series, Waterfall, on May 1.

But most of all, he wears the hat of butler to his 3 feline rulers, tending to their every need with utmost devotion.

Find Backfire on Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B06XTSBM9W/

Connect with Philipp on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RevKessPMPC/

Tweet at him: www.twitter.com/RevKess

Check out his Patreon: www.patreon.com

Sign up for his Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/cNqARz

 

tea-lights-2223898_960_720

My Religious Beliefs Summed Up

I know religion is one of those “taboo” topics you’re not supposed to talk about. However, the rebel side of me is going to do it anyway!

I was raised in a Christian household, with all the prayers, devotions, congregations, and other religious activities common among Christians of all denominations. However, as I hit my 20s, religion became less important for my daily life. I no longer consider myself a religious person; of anything, I’d say I’m “irreligious”, meaning indifferent to religion.

But I will say that I hold one simple belief to be true: “Good is good, no matter whose name it’s in.”

I, like every young fantasy reader, LOVED the Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis. I’ve read them more times than I can count. Amazing stories filled with magic, mystery, action, adventure, and excitement. What’s not to love?

But now that I’m a bit older and (I hope) wiser, I realize there are a lot of deeper truths hidden in the stories. One is a truth that I’ve based my religious beliefs around.

In The Last Battle, after everything is said and done and the characters are in “Heaven”, there is a character from the “enemy kingdom”, who served a god named Tash instead of Aslan. He’s sorrowful because he believes he won’t be allowed to enter Heaven because of this.

Here’s how the scene goes:

Then I fell at his feet and thought, Surely this is the hour of death, for the Lion (who is worthy of all honour) will know that I have served Tash all my days and not him. Nevertheless, it is better to see the Lion and die than to be Tisroc of the world and live and not to have seen him.

But the Glorious One bent down his golden head and touched my forehead with his tongue and said, Son, thou art welcome.

But I said, Alas Lord, I am no son of thine but the servant of Tash.

He answered, Child, all the service thou hast done to Tash, I account as service done to me.

Then by reasons of my great desire for wisdom and understanding, I overcame my fear and questioned the Glorious One and said, Lord, is it then true, as the Ape said, that thou and Tash are one?

The Lion growled so that the earth shook (but his wrath was not against me) and said, It is false. Not because he and I are one, but because we are opposites, I take to me the services which thou hast done to him. For I and he are of such different kinds that no service which is vile can be done to me, and none which is not vile can be done to him. Therefore if any man swear by Tash and keep his oath for the oath’s sake, it is by me that he has truly sworn, though he know it not, and it is I who reward him. And if any man do a cruelty in my name, then, though he says the name Aslan, it is Tash whom he serves and by Tash his deed is accepted.”

Truth bomb, right there! Such a beautifully simple summation.

People can argue over God, Allah, Buddha, the Universe, Gaia, Odin, and everyone else until they’re blue in the face, but does the name really matter? As this scene illustrates, it’s not about the name of the God/god you serve. What matters are the actions!

I no longer worry about the name of the god/God, or if I’m praying to the right one. Instead, I focus on trying to put good out into the world. I believe that that’s what really matters in the end, not the name I said as I did them.

 

brain-1841528_960_720

Are Modern Mental Disorders Prehistoric?

Mental and neurological disorders seem like such a modern thing.

Think about it: The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders was only published in 1952, just over 65 years ago. According to Wikipedia, “the beginning of psychiatry as a medical specialty is dated to the middle of the nineteenth century.” Though ancient texts (dating back to the 3rd Century BCE) dealt with mental disorders, it’s only in the last few centuries that they have been seriously approached from a scientific standpoint.

However, research out of the National Institute of Mental Health may have traced mental disorders back to our prehistoric past. Specifically, the parts of our brains that often are affected by mental disorders may carry genetic traces of Neanderthal brains.

The parts of our brain responsible for visualization, object location, and the use of tools may be partyl derived from Neanderthal gene variants. We still have those same gene variants that our prehistoric ancestors did. According to new MRI scans, that genetic variation may play a role in mental disorders. By studying those parts of the brains, scientists may be able to better understand autism-related disorders and schizophrenia, among others.

According to the Science Daily article:

“It’s been proposed that Neanderthals depended on visual-spatial abilities and toolmaking, for survival, more so than on the social affiliation and group activities that typify the success of modern humans — and that Neanderthal brains evolved to preferentially support these visuospatial functions. Now we have direct neuroimaging evidence that such trade-offs may still be operative in our brains.”

The genes we share with ancient Neanderthals may impact the development of certain parts of our brains, including the parts that are affected by autism-related disorders, schizophrenia, and other mental disorders.

sapling-154734_960_720

Why is Self Improvement So Darn Hard?

Realizing we need to change or improve something in our lives or personalities is just the first step, and often the easiest one. After that comes the challenge of actually MAKING the change and keeping up with it.

But change and self-improvement is always easier said than done. It can be bloody difficult to continue making those changes to your lifestyle, speech habits, patterns of thinking, and behavior that leads to personal growth. According to one article on Psychology Today, there are a few factors that make self-improvement difficult:

Wrong motivation. When we’re motivated by negative emotions (fear, guilt, shame, regret, anxiety), it’s nearly impossible to sustain efforts to change. While these negative emotions can be the catalyst to begin the change, it’s positive emotions that lead to long-lasting results.

Too much all at once. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and you’re not going to be a totally new person overnight. Breaking down your long-term goals into short-term ones will make them more manageable. Instead of seeing things as huge, vague, overwhelming achievement, you’ll be able to tackle everything one bite at a time.

Cognitive biases. It’s easy to think “all or nothing” when it comes to change, but this cognitive bias is basically guaranteeing failure. After all, it’s nearly impossible to reach 100% success at anything. Change that way of thinking and be content with “some” success.

Too many changes at a time. Have you ever tried to change a tire while refilling brake fluid and washing the car? Sounds silly, but sadly we can approach personal growth with the same mentality of “I want to do everything at the same time”. Tackle one change at a time. Once you start seeing real progress, move on to another, but not a moment before!

Lack of commitment. Most of us WANT to change, but it’s hard to commit to lasting change over the long haul. This is where “commitment devices” come in: a plan to change, a commitment with a friend, or anything that provides a physical reminder of what we’ve determined to do.

Forgetting to plan for failure. No one wants to plan to fail, but failure is always more likely than success. The secret is using each failure to help you avoid the same mistakes each time. Plan to pick yourself up and try again when you fail the first, second, and third time.

Focusing on the end result. Self-improvement isn’t about hitting a goal and being content with an accomplishment. The real change comes during the journey, one step at a time. Don’t be so focused on the end result that you fail to see how important each step along the change process really is.

 

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00060]

Book Review: Thief of the Night Guild by Andy Peloquin

As is my tradition with each new book launch, I like to share some of the reviews posted for the book. These reviews aren’t written by me (that would be cheating!), but they’re written by independent, third-party, unbiased reviewers.

Thief of the Night Guild (Queen of Thieves Book 2)

“I am Ilanna, Journeyman of House Hawk. I do the impossible.”

A cunning thief of unrivaled ingenuity, Ilanna is determined to secure her freedom. Nothing will prevent her escape from the Night Guild’s callous cruelty, not even the most powerful man in Praamis, Duke Phonnis.

Thief of the Night Guild Cover

Commanding a crew of pickpockets, bounty hunters, poisoners, and assassins, Ilanna schemes to disgrace the Duke. She must survive blackmail, a bloodthirsty rival syndicate, and enemies within her own House to claim her spoils: vengeance for the deaths of her friends and gold to buy independence.

But all Ilanna’s skill may not suffice to protect the one person who matters most: her son.

Reviews:

5 Stars: “Peloquin shifts gears with this book. While the last one was more biopic, following GiRL from the age of seven until her early twenties as she has her ups and downs dealing with her rival, the brutal Sabot, this book is a heist thriller through and through. And with all the grimdark fantasy elements Peloquin is so skilled at balancing.

Thief of the Night Guild is a riveting read, keeping you following the intricacies of Ilanna plan as she has to overcome new obstacles, deal with dubious allies, and race against the clock to get everything ready for her window. Because if she doesn’t, more than she will pay the price.” – RJ Reviews on Amazon

4 Stars: “If you thought the little one was a bada$$ before you have NOT seen anything yet. This author says he wanted to show that women can be strong and powerful and resourceful and he surely does. Wonderful read, imagery that puts you in the midst of all the action.” – Teri on Amazon

5 Stars: “Rarely have I come across a book, a series, written so eloquently, full of passion, joy, trauma, adventure, determination, and a will to succeed above anything else. What does one write after reading such perfection? Thief of the Night Guild (Queen of Thieves #2) is a perfect rendition of the exact manner in which one should write a fantasy novel.” – Tiffany Landers Have You Heard on Goodreads

5 Stars: “OMG. My head is still spinning. This book is totally unpredictable and had me on a rollercoaster of emotions.” – Lesia Connelly Vargas on Goodreads

 

I’m thrilled by the positive reception so far, and I can’t WAIT until the 2 and 3-star reviews come rolling in so I can learn how I can make the next book (Queen of the Night Guild) even better!

Find Thief of the Night Guild on Amazon

 

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00060]

Thief of the Night Guild is LIVE!

And it’s officially HERE!!!!

As usual, forgive the overuse of exclamation points, but I get excited on Book Launch Day.

This one is particularly special because this story deals with some pretty deep, delicate issues. If you read everything that happened to Ilanna in Child of the Night Guild (Queen of Thieves Book 1), you know that she suffered some pretty deep emotional, psychological, and physical wounds. Thief of the Night Guild showcases how she’s living with them, and what she does to heal from them one day at a time.

Thief of the Night Guild Cover

“I am Ilanna, Journeyman of House Hawk. I do the impossible.”

A cunning thief of unrivaled ingenuity, Ilanna is determined to secure her freedom. Nothing will prevent her escape from the Night Guild’s callous cruelty, not even the most powerful man in Praamis, Duke Phonnis.

Commanding a crew of pickpockets, bounty hunters, poisoners, and assassins, Ilanna schemes to disgrace the Duke. She must survive blackmail, a bloodthirsty rival syndicate, and enemies within her own House to claim her spoils: vengeance for the deaths of her friends and gold to buy independence.

But all Ilanna’s skill may not suffice to protect the one person who matters most: her son.

Get it Now on Amazon

Action, adventure, betrayal, murder, loss, sorrow, death, intrigue, mystery, and more–this is the thrilling dark fantasy adventure you will not want to miss!

 

I’ll be doing a LIVE reading from Thief of the Night Guild at the Dominion Rising Launch Party.

I’ll also be talking about the book and its themes in tonight’s special episode of The Fantasy Fiends Podcast Ep 010: Toxic Relationships. We’ll also have a special 6-person reenactment of one of the best scenes from the book. Join in on the fun!

stained-glass-1589648_960_720

Is Religion a “Safety Net”?

It’s an odd question, but one that’s been in my head for a few years thanks to this picture:

Funny, right? However, if you stop to think about it, it’s actually a bit chilling.

A 17th century philosopher named Blaise Pascal came up with “Pascal’s Wager” in which he approached religion from the standpoint of odds and outcomes:

  • If I believe in God and there is no God, I lose nothing.
  • If I don’t believe in God and there is a God, I suffer eternal damnation.

Logically speaking, everyone would believe in God just to avoid hellfire and suffering, right? Religion is a good “safety net”. We’re hedging our bets against what actually happens after we die, even if we have NO idea what happens or even if anything happens.

But is that actually a good reason to believe? Is that even true belief? Heck, from that standpoint, is there one belief that’s “safer” than others? Is Islam safer than Buddhism, or is Protestantism a better choice than Orthodoxy? Approaching it from this angle, you’re looking at a “numbers game” rather than true faith.

I wish I could have some simple, reductionist answer to this question. However, given that it’s stumped philosophers and theologians for centuries, I’m okay not having “the answer”.

Instead, I’m going to use an example that has stuck with me for decades, courtesy of C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia.

At the end of the series, one of the minor characters is in “Heaven”, but he’s freaking out because he served Tash, the antithesis of the God-esque Aslan. This is what happens:

“Then I fell at his feet and thought, Surely this is the hour of death, for the Lion (who is worthy of all honour) will know that I have served Tash all my days and not him. Nevertheless, it is better to see the Lion and die than to be Tisroc of the world and live and not to have seen him.”

“But the Glorious One bent down his golden head and touched my forehead with his tongue and said, Son, thou art welcome. But I said, Alas Lord, I am no son of thine but the servant of Tash. He answered, Child, all the service thou hast done to Tash, I account as service done to me. Then by reasons of my great desire for wisdom and understanding, I overcame my fear and questioned the Glorious One and said, Lord, is it then true, as the Ape said, that thou and Tash are one?”

“The Lion growled so that the earth shook (but his wrath was not against me) and said, It is false. Not because he and I are one, but because we are opposites, I take to me the services which thou hast done to him. For I and he are of such different kinds that no service which is vile can be done to me, and none which is not vile can be done to him. Therefore if any man swear by Tash and keep his oath for the oath’s sake, it is by me that he has truly sworn, though he know it not, and it is I who reward him. And if any man do a cruelty in my name, then, though he says the name Aslan, it is Tash whom he serves and by Tash his deed is accepted.”

That little scene blew my teenaged mind in a way no Bible verse or religious text ever had. It gave me the simple answer that I still hold onto today:

  • Good deeds are to the credit of the positive force in the universe, by whatever name you call Him/Her
  • Bad deeds are to the credit of the negative force in the universe, by whatever name you call Him/Her

Actions = consequences, good or bad. The deity/spiritual entity you’re doing them for is far less important than the fact that you’re doing them. I believe that is the “safety net” that will serve you best in the afterlife or next life. The name you use is far less important!

shame-2087816_960_720

Time to Get Rid of Shame!

Shame, like ALL negative emotions, have a place in life. Or at least had a place in our primitive societies.

Shame is defined as “a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior.” Looking at human society from the perspective of a “pack”, shame lets us know when we’re doing something wrong so we “stay in line” to avoid being rejected by the pack. In the wild, solitude means vulnerability. Staying in a pack is the key to survival.

But now, in our modern society, shame is a negative emotion that may be doing more harm than good. We are no longer part of a pack, but we are a society made up of individuals, each with their own unique quirks and characteristics. We’re not dependent on the alphas for food and survival, but we’re able to live in our own little “pack of one”. The feelings that kept our primitive ancestors alive may no longer be necessary.

Shame stops us from doing things that could damage important social relationships, thus preventing our devaluation. But if it becomes the strongest feeling in our lives, it can stop you from doing things that could lead to healthy social relationships.

Think about it: how many people attended comic book conventions when it was seen as “dorky” or “geeky”? I’ve had so many people tell me, “Oh, I remember when San Diego Comic Con was just 1,000 people.” Now, you get numbers in the hundreds of thousands attending a single event, coming from around the world. What was once a potentially “shameful” activity is now accepted as the norm.

Shame is no longer needed to survive, so it’s time to get rid of it. We need to stop being ashamed of the things we like, love, want, need, and feel. Shame will distort our perspective on things, tell us it’s “wrong” or “bad”. Really, shame is a form of anxiety—our worries that something we do will make you undesirable or devalued.

Say no to shame! Don’t let that anxiety stop you from doing something if it makes you happy, or to be who you want to be. Understand that shame is an instinctive reaction intended to keep you alive, but don’t let it control you. Knowledge is power, so know your shame and take power over it.

final_front - Copy

Book Review: Amaskan’s Blood by Raven Oak

For today’s Book Review Wednesday, I’ve got a treat: an award-winning novel by the amazing Raven Oak. This book had some fascinating themes, some of which we covered in our Fantasy Fiends Podcast Episode #003: What is Family, Really? This is a book I’m very certain you will enjoy!

Amaskan’s Blood

Her name was Adelei.

She was a master in her field, one of the feared Order of Amaska. Those who were a danger to the Little Dozen Kingdoms wound up dead by her hand. The Order sends her deep into the Kingdom of Alexander, away from her home in Sadai, and into the hands of the Order’s enemy.

The job is nothing short of a suicide mission, one serving no king, no god, and certainly not Justice. With no holy order to protect her, she tumbles dagger-first into the Boahim Senate’s political schemes and finds that magic is very much alive and well in the Little Dozen Kingdoms.final_front

While fighting to unravel the betrayal surrounding the royal family of Alexander, she finds her entire past is a lie, right down to those she called family. They say the truth depends on which side of the sword one stands, but they never said what to do when all the swords are pointing at you.

Amidst her enemies, in a land from the darkest reaches of her past, she must decide if she is to be more than another brainwashed puppet. No matter her choice, she must fight to do what is just and right to save the people of the Little Dozen.

My Review: 5 Stars

A very well-crafted story, one that explored some very emotionally intense and intricate issues. From the first page, I was drawn to the story of Adelei and her journey from the only home she’s ever known (that of an assassin) to the city and country that should actually BE her home. A fascinating look at the truth of what makes someone family—blood, loyalty, love, emotional ties, duty, respect, and more.

There were parts that I had a hard time reading (slowed down a bit), but once I got through them, I enjoyed the story immensely. Highly recommended!

Here’s a Taste:

The sleeping woman in his arms shifted, her heel connecting with his shin. The jagged scar to the right of her eye bunched together with worry lines. One of her hands flitted to the scar tissue along her throat, and she whimpered in rhythm to the twitching of the facial muscles around her eyes.

“Shhhhh,” King Leon murmured, running his thumb down her jawline. Through the deep blue bed curtains, tiny hints of light streamed in from one of four windows which left most of the room dark in the early dawn.

Even with the lack of light, the scar running parallel to her jaw stood out in contrast to the others along her body. The puffy and angry line stretched the full width of her neck, from ear to ear. Ten years together, and still she never spoke of it, never talked of the wound that walked in and out of her nightmares.

She thought she’d kept her past from him, but a few paid informants gained a king whatever information he wished. That and the fact that she talked in her sleep. A smile lifted the corners of his thin lips as he stared at the woman wrapped beneath the heavy winter blankets.

His thumb froze at the shift in her breathing, and he peered down to find blue eyes staring up at him. Instead of their usual humor, the deep, blue pools were haunted by shadows, and the smile fell from his lips. “What is it, Ida? What’s bothering you so? Was it something in Sadai?”

“I begged you not to send me.” The scar across her throat jumped when she spoke, and her voice resembled gravel.

“Since when has my sepier been afraid of anything?” The former captain of the royal guard didn’t answer as another tear slid down a cheek more gaunt than it had been a few months before. “Ida, love, I know you hate Sadai, but we all must make sacrifices for duty.”

Her body stilled while long pale fingers gripped the bed sheets. “You know nothin’.”

Leon didn’t know what shocked him more, that she was angry with him or that she was afraid.

“‘Twas a mistake to return to Sadai,” she whispered.

“I sent a woman I trust into that country, a tenacious spy who feared nothing, and she’s returned to me broken. I was going to wait until the sun rose before asking for your report, but considering your tears, I have to ask. What happened? What brought you back early and afraid?”

Ida rose from the bed, her bare feet picking their way across clothing strewn haphazardly on the floor from a few hours before when she’d returned.

The look on her face had led him to ask no questions, but as she stood in the sprinkling of sunlight the morning brought, dread seeped into Leon’s bones. Her fifty years did little to mar her body, but a decade of leading battles had left scars aplenty across her frame, and Leon frowned to see a fresh mark across her thigh, its scab already sloughing off and healing.

“I’ve failed you, Your Majesty.”

“Were you not successful then in finding the location of the Order of Amaska?”

Her lips trembled. “I—I was successful, Your Majesty.”

King Leon sucked air through clenched teeth much too fast, and the ever-present congestion in his lungs leapt forth. Another coughing spasm whipped through him.

Stars danced before his eyes, and Ida’s footsteps sounded nearby. Shortly after, she pressed the mug into his waiting hands. Some of the medicine sloshed out of the cup before it found his lips, and several swallows later, the spasm passed, leaving hope in its wake. “Where is the Order located?”

“Sire, there’s more—”

“Where are they?”

“They’re near the coast, near the town of Haif—”

He was two feet out of bed and halfway to the door before he remembered the need for clothing, and despite his bruised lungs, he quickly dug through his clothes chest. Leon seized the first clothes his fingers touched: an old pair of breeches a touch too loose at the waist, and an undershirt that bore a hole from a moth.

He didn’t care what he looked like. After thirteen years, he had finally found the men who had massacred his family. His giddy footsteps carried him across the room where he rang for a page. When the boy appeared, Leon said, ”I need Captain Fenton brought to my sitting room immediately.”

When the door shut behind the young page, Leon haphazardly dug through a box of letters. “Once Michael arrives, you’ll tell us both about their location. We have plans to make.”

“There’s more, and you must hear it alone.”

When he faced her again, she knelt on the stone floor, and her shoulder length hair spilled limply across her face. “What more is there? After thirteen years, I finally have the location of the bastards. Today is a good day, Ida. Today I will have my revenge.”

“Will ya march across Sadai’s borders to take it?”

“If necessary.”

“You’d bring the wrath of the Boahim Senate down upon us? Would you rip this land apart again for ‘nother pointless war?”

King Leon took her hands into his own as he knelt down beside her. “I thought you would understand this. Those bastards killed my wife. My daughter. What else would you have me do? The Boahim Senate has done nothing to stop the Amaskans. If they won’t seek justice, then I will.”

About the Author

Award-winning and bestselling speculative fiction author Raven Oak is best known for Amaskan’s Blood (2016 Ozma Fantasy Award Winner and Epic Awards Finalist)Class-M Exileand the collection Joy to the Worlds: Mysterious Speculative Fiction for the Holidays (Foreword Reviews 2016 Book of the Year Finalist). Raven spent most of her K-12 education doodling stories and 500 page monstrosities that are forever locked away in a filing cabinet.

When she’s not writing, she’s getting her game on with tabletop games, indulging in cartography, or staring at the ocean. She lives in the Seattle area with her husband, and their three kitties who enjoy lounging across the keyboard when writing deadlines approach.

Find the book on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Amaskans-Blood-Boahim-Series-Volume/dp/0990815706

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32722359-amaskan-s-blood
Visit Raven’s website: www.ravenoak.net
Tweet at her: http://twitter.com/raven_oak

Connect on Facebook: http://facebook.com/authorroak

And Google+: https://www.google.com/+RavenOak

 

Page 2 of 55

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén