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SIGNED – Trial of Stone (Heirs of Destiny #1)

$20.00
FormatPaperback

A kingdom of death. A war for power and profit. Young heroes caught in the crossfire.

Apprentice thief Kodyn expected hardships along his journey to return a kidnapped girl to her father. Harsh deserts and cutthroat bandits, certainly—all risks of the mission—but his criminal training never prepared him to be dragged into a shadowy battle for power in Shalandra, the City of the Dead.

Polite smiles hide sharp knives. In the gloom of golden spires carved from mountain stone, currents of corruption and vice run deep. Priests of the god of death rule with an iron fist, imposing a caste system that elevates some to a life of privilege and condemns others to filth and squalor.

Fighting at Kodyn’s side is Aisha, a fierce warrior from the north with the mystical ability to speak to the dead. Together, the companions must go to war to save Shalandra from the power-hungry clerics and their army of thieves, thugs, blood cultists, and assassins.

The fate of a nation rests on their shoulders—are these young heroes strong enough to seize their destiny?

Trial of Stone is the first in the gripping, heart-pounding Heirs of Destiny series. Get ready for a thrill ride on epic fantasy’s darker side, perfect for fans of A.C. Cobble, Jeff Wheeler, and Robin Hobb.

 

(Each paperback is hand-signed and personalized by me. Swag included!)

Quest for magical weapon
Ancient Egyptian culture
Found family
Young Adult
Ancient artifacts
love triangle


SIGNED – Trial of Stone (Heirs of Destiny #1)

$20.00
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Five years and a day, Issa thought. Five years and a day training in Killian’s forge for this moment, and this is who I’m up against?

Her eyes locked on the hulking brute that stood a few yards to her right. His stance, low guard with his right foot shuffled slightly back and to one side, marked him as a student of the Academy of the Silver Sword. Broader in the shoulder than a draftsman’s ox, with hands that looked too large for his two-handed blade, he would be a fearsome foe for any contender. The ornate turquoise band of an Alqati around his copper-skinned forehead marked him as a member of Shalandra’s military caste—with all the training that included.

Yet despite the fear coiling in Issa’s gut, she forced herself to stand tall and face her challenger without hesitation. Nervous sweat rolled down the big man’s face—he felt as unnerved as she, as daunted by what lay ahead. He, too, knew that his hopes of surviving the trial of steel hinged on his courage, skill, and the strength of his arms.

She could almost read the unspoken question in his eyes: Am I prepared for this?

Issa had done everything in her power to assuage those doubts. She’d trained for years in preparation of Hallar’s Calling, the yearly tournament that selected only those blessed by the Long Keeper to join the Blades. Five years evading Savta and Saba’s questions or lying to them, all in the hope that she could lift her family out of the squalor they were cursed to as Earaqi. She hadn’t been chosen, hadn’t been summoned to the Hall of the Beyond for the trial of the Crucible. That hadn’t stopped her, just as this new obstacle wouldn’t stop her.

No meathead is going to get in my way. She clenched her jaw, determined. I will claim one of those blades.

The clarion call of a trumpet snapped Issa’s attention away from her immediate foe.

The time has come.

Her gaze roamed over the five thousand spectators sitting in breathless silence on the stone benches that surrounded the Crucible, the arena testing grounds where she and her fellow hopefuls would face the Long Keeper’s challenge in the hope of being chosen to serve. High golden sandstone walls separated her from the people—from high-ranking Dhukari to those Mahjuri and Earaqi fortunate enough to receive the invitation to witness the spectacle—but their faces revealed the same eager excitement that thrummed through her. They had come to see battle and death, and by the Long Keeper, they would have it!

As the trumpet sounded again, five thousand pairs of eyes turned away from the Crucible and toward the Royal Stands. Amhoset Nephelcheres, Pharus of Shalandra, Servant of the Long Keeper, Word of Justice and Death, sat on a throne carved from the same golden sandstone of the arena. He was a regal figure, tall with broad shoulders and a strong head to bear the ornate golden headdress of his office. A mountain of plush, velvet-covered pillows softened his seat, and servants wearing golden Dhukari headbands held fans of ostrich feathers and gold-inlaid wood to shield him from the bright midday sun.

Yet Issa’s eyes traveled to the figure sitting beside him. Callista Vinaus, Lady of Blades, sat in a similar throne, yet hers lacked any trace of ostentation and comfort. She didn’t so much sit as perch, her posture at once relaxed and wary. Her two-handed Shalandran steel sword of office rested against the side of her chair, and she wore the black, ridged plate mail of a Keeper’s Blade.

Though the woman’s hard face lacked the Pharus’ classical beauty, even from this distance, Issa could see that it had a beauty of its own—the strength and determination that earned her the highest-ranking military office in Shalandra. Like all Keeper’s Blades, she wore a helmet—shaped like a snarling mountain lion—rather than a headband, but the stripe of gold on the helmet’s forehead marked her as Dhukari.
Issa’s gut tightened. If she emerged victorious, she would serve the Lady of Blades directly. It was the highest calling in Shalandra outside of the Necroseti priesthood, and the only way to give her grandparents a better life. Savta and Saba would finally be able to stop their toiling and enjoy their golden years in the comfort of the Keeper’s Tier, the level of the city reserved for the Dhukari. Issa fought for them this day.

Tinush, the eldest member of the Keeper’s Council and High Divinity of the Necroseti, stood and strode toward the edge of the Keeper’s Stands—the box reserved for the highest-ranking of the Long Keeper’s clerics. His shin-length shendyt was made of linen spun with gold thread, a match for the white-and-gold stole draped over his aging shoulders. Like all of the high-ranking Necroseti, he wore a bejeweled white hedjet, a tall, almost conical-looking crown that sat atop his golden headband. Thick bands of kohl ringed his eyes and he’d painted on seven large black dots to denote his rank.

“Uncover yourselves.” Tinush’s voice rang out loud across the Crucible with a strength that belied his age. “Remove all trappings of rank and caste, for today you stand bare before the Long Keeper’s judgement.”

Issa and the others in the Crucible reached up and removed their headbands, the markings of their caste. Issa’s simple red cloth band marked her as Earaqi, the laborer caste. Most of those surrounding her wore the bright blue of Alqati, white of the Zadii, and brown of the Intaji. A few wore the gold bands that marked them as members of the Dhukari, Shalandra’s ruling caste. Only one other person in the arena, a willowy boy two or three years younger than her, wore the red. Two young girls standing off to the side tried to hide the black headbands that marked them as Mahjuri, the wretched caste. None of the enslaved Kabili would fight bare-headed today.

“The Long Keeper cares not for titles, wealth, or fame,” Tinush continued, his voice echoing with strength across the arena. “The god of death cares only for one thing: your courage. Courage alone will mark you as deserving to join the Blades, the Long Keeper’s warriors on Einan. Steel your hearts, for only the worthy will come through victorious.”

Issa felt the familiar tightness in her gut, the thrill of anticipated battle trembling in her hands. She didn’t know if she was worthy—no one did until they faced the test of the Crucible—but she had done everything she could to be ready for this moment. Killian had insisted she wait another year. She hadn’t listened, and now it was too late to go back.

She didn’t want to go back. More than anything else, she wanted the horn to sound the beginning of the trial. The moment she heard that sound, her life would change.

“Always know your surroundings.” Killian’s words echoed in her mind. “Even the slightest bump or dip in the ground, the smallest twig can be turned into a weapon against your enemy.”

Between hammering heartbeats, Issa drank in every detail of the Crucible. Solid stone walls thirty feet high ran in a circle two hundred feet in diameter. A ring of sand-covered ground surrounded the outer edge of the Pit, with eight wooden plank bridges spanning the deep, ten-foot wide ditch that separated them from the Keeper’s Steps at the middle. Wooden platforms built like uneven stepping stones rose thirty feet into the air in the heart of the area. Upon the highest platform stood the stone sheaths that held the five two-handed flame swords of the Blades.

Her fists clenched to still the tremor, to calm her nerves. She would claim one of those weapons today. She had to.

The clangor of the horn shattered the breathless silence, accompanied by the sudden roar of the crowd. The signal had been given. The trial of steel had begun.

As Issa expected, the huge ox-sized brute to her right charged straight at her. Sixty-five young men and women faced the Crucible today; no more than five would claim the blades and emerge victorious. But the swords would not fall to the quickest or cleverest. The Blades were warriors, training in the art of battle and conquest. They sought those that could outfight their enemies as well as outrace them.

Issa sized up her bull-rushing opponent. He moved with the grace of a practiced combatant, his sword held steady even as his huge feet pounded toward her. The Academy of the Silver Sword taught their fighters to use size and strength as well as skill. With that huge two-handed sword, a well-forged steel simulacrum of the flame blades he sought to claim, he could cut her in half. Casualties among the tested were high.

But Issa had no intention of being one. Even as the huge boy rushed her, she stepped back into a stance taught at the Academy of the Striking Serpents. She wielded two short blades to his larger one and the pose—right-handed sword held low, left-handed sword poised for a high strike—gave her the speed to combat his strength.

The boy slowed as he came within striking range and swung a testing blow. Issa batted the soft strike aside and chopped at him with her right-handed sword. When her opponent blocked low, she aimed high. She didn’t give him time to regain his balance but pushed him hard.

“Always make your enemy underestimate you,” Killian had pounded into her daily for their five years of lessons. “Make them see you as nothing but an Earaqi girl until you’re ready to spring your trap.”

Not for the first time, Issa gave silent thanks that Killian insisted on teaching her all the sword styles practiced in the six Academies of Shalandra reserved for the upper castes. She, like all low-caste Shalandrans unable to afford costly private education, attended the Institute of the Seven Faces, the school available to the general public. Her low-caste studies had prepared her to fight like a brawler, but Killian had hammered those tendencies out of her with the same ruthlessness that he hammered the steel in his smithy.

When the huge boy transitioned into the high guard pose favored by Silver Sword students, Issa smiled. She’d trained to defeat this stance and its powerful chopping attacks for more than a year now.

Underestimate this!

She stepped in with a low swing meant to bait her opponent, then twisted out of the path of the expected blow. The heavy two-handed sword whistled inches past her face and thunked into the dirt. Issa’s left handed-blade struck out and carved a thin line across the back of the boy’s hand, hard enough to loosen his grip without severing fingers. She drove the tip of her right-handed sword into his thigh until it struck bone. The boy howled, falling to one knee, and Issa knocked him out of the fight with a hard punch to the face–a mercy he likely wouldn’t have extended to her.

Before the boy’s unconscious body thumped onto the sandy soil, Issa whirled to face her next opponent. The melee swirled around her as the young men and women locked in combat—some to the death. Already, the blood of more than a dozen stained the sands. High-caste Alqati and Dhukari died beside Earaqi laborers and Mahjuri outcasts.

Instinct and hard training warned Issa of a threat from behind. She whirled and brought up her swords in time to block a powerful cross-body blow from a two-handed sword. The impact knocked her backward and sent her blades wide, but she threw herself into a roll that carried her out of her enemy’s reach.

“Not today, lowborn!” snarled the young man facing her. He looked about the same age as her, with long, curling hair pulled into a tight braid at the nape of his neck and features that might have been handsome had they not been twisted by rage and bloodlust. Though he fought bare-headed, the kohl ringing his eyes and seven black beauty marks on his face marked him as one of the Dhukari, a son of the Necroseti priests.

A hard smile touched Issa’s lips. Doubtless the youth’s father and mother watched from the stands. What will they think when they see their son bested by an Earaqi?

The Dhukari shot a contemptuous glance at her short swords. “You got lucky with Lorkal,” he said, his eyes darting to the unconscious hulk at her feet. “He never was the Academy’s best. Let’s see what happens when you face the Silver Sword’s finest.”

When the youth stepped toward her, Issa did the one thing he didn’t expect: she hurled her short swords at him. A quick throw, meant to knock him off-guard and shatter his concentration for a second. The young man batted aside her first blade with ease and grunted as the pommel of the second hit him square in the chest.
Issa was already charging, pausing in her furious rush long enough to scoop up the two-handed sword of her fallen foe. The young man’s sneer changed to wide-eyed surprise as he recovered and found her rushing straight at him.

She threw all the force of her arms and shoulders, strengthened by years of training and swinging Killian’s hammer, into the blow. The two-handed sword crashed into the youth’s with jarring force. Her edge slammed into the flat of his blade. Any ordinary weapon would have bent, but his premium-quality Voramian steel sword simply flew from his hands.

The tip of her blade was at his throat in an instant. “Silver Sword’s finest?” She snorted. “Makes me glad I didn’t bother.”

Before Issa could strike—a blow to wound or kill, she never decided—movement flashed in the corner of her eye. She whipped her two-handed sword up and around to deflect a blow aimed for her neck. The strike, which would have opened her throat, flew wide. Issa didn’t bother bringing her heavy, two-handed blade around for a counterstrike against her opponent, one of the two Mahjuri girls. Instead, she reached up to grip the edge of the sword just above the crossguard and whipped the pommel around. The heavy steel knob slammed into the side of the girl’s head.

The Mahjuri girl staggered backward, stunned. Issa whipped around to take down the arrogant Dhukari youth, but the boy had scooped up his sword and was locked in combat with a shorter, smaller young man.
In the momentary lull, Issa took in the rest of the combatants. Only thirty of the original sixty-five remained standing, all fighting in twos and threes. Issa’s gut tightened as she saw three figures pounding over the wooden bridges and leaping onto the platforms that led up toward the blades.

Killian’s words echoed in her mind once again. “Just reaching the top doesn’t guarantee you get a blade. Only the worthy will be able to draw the swords.”

With a growl, Issa turned away from the battle and raced toward the nearest bridge. The wood creaked and sagged beneath her, and it took a conscious effort not to look down into the twenty-foot pit lined with sharp steel spikes. She heard the crunch of wood and an agonized scream off to her right as one of the bridges collapsed beneath two racing youths.

The sound of pounding feet echoed behind her and Issa had to throw herself to the side to avoid a sword stroke aimed at her back. She leapt up onto a short wooden platform just as the arrogant Dhukari boy made the crossing. But instead of following her, the young man turned and, with a vicious snarl, set about hacking at the bridge.

The Mahjuri girl had raced after them and had gotten halfway across before the bridge began to shudder. Issa saw that with two or three more well-placed strikes, the youth would collapse the bridge and the young girl would plummet to a horrible death. She hesitated only a heartbeat before leaping back down and charging the boy. They might be competing for the same five blades, but no one—especially no one that lived a life as hard as the Mahjuri, the outcasts and wretched of Shalandra’s poorest tier—deserve to die like that.

Issa yelled as she charged, just to get the youth’s attention. The young man turned to her and deflected her wild strike, but Issa hadn’t intended to kill him. Just distract him for a few seconds.

The Dhukari youth didn’t share her reservations. He hacked at her with all the strength in his arms, which were heavy with lean, corded muscle honed over his years at the Academy of the Silver Sword. His bare, sweat-covered chest gleamed a golden bronze in the sunlight, his muscles rippling as he tried to kill her.

Issa would be damned if she fell now, so close to her goal. The moment she saw the Mahjuri girl’s feet touch the Keeper’s Steps, she disengaged with a quick swipe of her two-handed blade. The attack forced the Dhukari youth to leap back for fear of a debilitating leg wound. Issa felt a momentary satisfaction as he almost stepped off the ledge, his heels dangling on empty air. She didn’t wait to see if he regained his balance or fell to his death but turned and scrambled up the nearest wooden platform.

The platforms were arranged like an uneven staircase that rose in unpredictable, erratic patterns. She couldn’t just climb straight to the top, but had to leap between platforms and scramble up the wooden walls using the gaps between the planks as finger and footholds.

All this while dodging her opponents. Thirty had dropped to twenty-five that she could see, including the three nearly at the top of the Keeper’s Steps. She’d climbed higher than most of the rest, but they would catch up to her. She couldn’t let herself be caught hanging on to a ledge or pulling herself up. Her opponents wouldn’t hesitate to put an end to her—anything to get those blades. Everything changed the moment the sword was drawn from its sheath.

Issa growled as a sharp, stinging line of pain opened along the back of her leg. She scrambled up just in time to avoid another blow, this one from the short, thin-bladed sword—called an estoc, a weapon favored by the Institute of the Seven Faces for its light weight and ease of use—wielded by the Mahjuri girl. Fierce determination shone in the girl’s dark eyes as she swiped at Issa again.

Not bothering to block, Issa scooted away from the ledge and leapt to her feet. She had seconds before the girl caught up, so she had to open a gap between them. Her two-handed sword gave her the advantage in proper combat, but the platforms were too narrow for her to swing freely. She didn’t want to find out if the Mahjuri girl was good enough to defeat her.

A loud bark of laughter sounded from above and ahead of her. Issa’s heart stopped as she looked up. Somehow, the arrogant Dhukari youth had managed to gain the lead, and he was halfway between her and the uppermost platform. He’d get to those blades before her, or wait until she caught up then take her down.

With a growl, Issa pushed the worry from her mind and focused on her immediate surroundings. Another Dhukari youth was on the platform next to her, his back turned. She leapt onto the platform and drove the pommel of her sword into the base of his skull. He collapsed into a boneless heap at her feet with a loud thump.
Issa jumped across a broad gap onto a higher platform and scrambled up a plank ladder. Instinct warned her of danger as her head reached the level of the next platform, and she ducked in time to avoid a wild swing of a two-handed sword.

“No you don’t, lowborn!” The handsome, arrogant face of the Dhukari youth sneered down at her. He held his sword poised to drive into her face, throat, or chest if she attempted to climb. “The blades will go to those worthy, not a filthy mud-eater like yooOAAAH!”

His words cut off in a growl tinged with pain. Issa was surprised to see the Mahjuri girl pulling her slim sword free of the young man’s back. The wound wasn’t fatal, but it would hurt enough to slow down the arrogant youth.

The Mahjuri girl ducked his wild backhand swing and snapped off a low-kick aimed at his knee. A dirty street fighting tactic taught in the Institute of the Seven Faces, something the fine blademasters of the Academies would never countenance. The kick caught the young man on the side of the knee and his leg crumpled beneath him. He cried out and sagged to the wooden platform.

Issa seized the opportunity to scramble onto the level, kicked the sword from his hand, then raced on to catch up to the Mahjuri girl. The uppermost platform stood just ten feet above her, with only five levels between her and her destination.

But at the top of the Keeper’s Steps, the combatants were packed closer together. Ten young men and women had reached the platform ahead of her. Two had managed to draw the two-handed blades, and the battle was over for them.

The other eight, however, seemed determined not to let their failure allow someone else to succeed. They might not have drawn the blades, but they turned to face outward to cut down any of their opponents that hadn’t yet reached the pinnacle.

“Hey!” Issa called to the Mahjuri girl. She didn’t know the girl’s name, but right now that didn’t matter. “Hey!”

The girl turned to look, and she crouched in anticipation of an attack as Issa bounded onto the platform beside her.

But Issa made no move to strike. Instead, she pointed at the uppermost platforms. “We need to work together if we’re going to get to those blades.”

“Work together?” The Mahjuri girl narrowed her eyes. “We are enemies.”

“We were,” Issa said, “but right now, our only chance of getting through to the final platform is if we help each other.” She grinned. “There are five blades and only two of us. Seems the odds are in our favor, don’t you think?”

Suspicion filled the girl’s piercing gaze. It was to be expected. The Mahjuri lived a hard life, reviled and mistreated by all of the castes above them. Even the Kabili, the slave caste, often fared better than the Mahjuri. Yet the girl had seen Issa’s Earaqi headband that marked her as a member of the laborer’s caste, barely one step above the Mahjuri, the closest to equals the girl would ever find.

“So be it,” she said with a nod. “Together.”

“Good.” Issa tightened her grip on the two-handed sword. “I’ll go first, cut a way through for you, then you bring them down from behind. Got it?”

“Got it.” Grim resolve filled the girl’s voice.

“I’m Issa, by the way.”

“Etai,” the girl responded.

“Well, Etai, let’s do this.”

Issa sucked in a deep breath and leapt onto the next platform. Two young men stood waiting for her, their long hand-and-a-half swords held in the close-guarded stance of the Academy of the Darting Arrow. Issa knew one would attack in a flurry of quick thrusts intended to keep her sword occupied while the other waited for a chance to strike.

She didn’t intend to give them that chance.

The moment she found her balance, she planted her feet and brought the sword across in a two-handed blow like a woodsman felling a tree. Her sword crashed into their blades and knocked them wide, the force throwing them off-kilter. The momentum of her swing carried her sword across and too wide to recover as well. Had she fought alone, she might have died then and there.

Etai seized the opening, darted around the youth on the right, and drove the tip of her slim-bladed estoc into his back. The youth cried out and crumpled, blood spilling from a wound Issa guessed had hit a vital organ. When the second boy tried to attack Etai, Issa smashed the flat of her blade into the side of his head. The impact knocked the boy off the platform and he landed with a loud crunch on the level below.

Issa leapt onto the next platform in time to save Etai from being impaled by a blow from another Silver Sword student, then brought her knee up between the young man’s legs. When her opponent crumbled, Etai cut him down with a savage chop to his sword arm. Issa lifted the wailing youth’s slim body from the ground and, with the strength in her forge-hardened muscles, hurled him into the trio that stood waiting on the platform above them.

“Why thank you!” called a familiar arrogant, mocking voice. Issa’s gut clenched as she saw the Dhukari boy leap onto the uppermost platform and reach for the hilt of one of the three blades still in their sheaths. He sneered at her and heaved at the blade. With a whisper of steel on stone, the huge flame-bladed sword slipped free of its sheath.

“Yes!” the youth cried, triumph in his voice. He lofted the blade high, where it glinted in the bright sunlight.
Issa’s gut clenched. Two blades left.

Even as she thought it, five more figures broke through the youths guarding the platform. Issa wanted to scream in anger and frustration as they fought for the blades. So close, just ten feet away, only to fail!

Yet nothing happened. Try as they might, the five could not pull the swords free. The triumph in their expressions turned to panic, then horror, then devastation as they realized the truth. They had reached the blades but the Long Keeper hadn’t found them worthy.

Issa was moving before she realized it. Her long legs carried her up to the last platform, cleared of all opponents. A cry from behind her stopped her in the instant her foot touched the level that held the blades.
Etai was on the ground, clutching a wound in her leg. Behind her, a young man held his short sword raised to strike.

Issa had a moment to act. She was within reach of her goal, the thing that would change her family’s life forever. Yet what would Savta and Saba say if they knew she’d abandoned a companion—a friend made in the heat of battle?

With a growl, she whipped around and hurled the two-handed sword at the youth standing over Etai. She didn’t bother with technique or precision—Killian would murder her for such a foolish use of her weapon—but instead hurled it with all her force. The heavy blade turned lazily in the air and crashed into the boy’s chest. The spinning blade cleaved through the side of his neck and he fell back, blood misting in the air.

Issa raced the three steps toward Etai, scooped up the fallen girl, and raced back toward the platform with the blades. To her horror, she found the Dhukari youth standing in her path. His flame-bladed sword, made of the finest, deep black Shalandran steel, was poised to drive into her chest.

Issa’s blood turned to ice. He claimed the blade. He should be out of the fight!

Yet one look in the young man’s eyes made it clear he had no intention of stepping aside. The contemptuous sneer on his face told her precisely what he thought of the two lowborns.

But Issa hadn’t come this far to let some arrogant Dhukari boy stop her. Right arm clenched around Etai’s waist, she could only strike out with her left hand. Her palm slapped the curving, flame-shaped steel blade away from her chest and she barreled straight into the young man.

They went down in a heap of flesh, steel, and clothing, but Issa regained enough control to drive the tip of her elbow into the boy’s face. Another dirty trick courtesy of her education at the Institute of the Seven Faces, one they didn’t teach at the Academy of the Silver Sword.

“Go!” she shouted, and shoved Etai to her feet. The Mahjuri girl took one hopping step then sagged on her wounded leg. Her hands reached out to close around the hilt of one of the remaining blades and, with a cry of mingled pain and determination, she ripped the blade free.

Etai stared wide-eyed at the sword in her hand, tears springing to her eyes, and her triumphant laughter echoed across the Crucible.

Issa was a step behind Etai, her hand reaching for the final sword. Another boy, one of the Alqati, reached for the blade at the same time. Her fingers closed around the hilt an instant before the boy’s did.

A sharp pain drove into her palm and, for a moment, it seemed nothing was happening. Yet, when Issa hauled on the blade, something inside the stone sheath gave way and the sword pulled free with a hiss of steel on stone.

Issa stood, stunned, filled with triumph as she stared down at the huge flame-bladed sword in her hands. She didn’t care about the blood staining her palm or the torn, ripped condition of her simple tunic.

The clarion sound of the trumpet proclaimed the truth for all in the stadium to hear. She had defeated her opponents. She had claimed the sword. Her life, and her grandparents’ with her, would never be the same after today.

She lofted the sword high, and the crowd cheered louder.

I will be one of the Keeper’s Blades.

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Customer Reviews

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M
Manie Kilian
Strife and courage

It is perhaps inevitable that looking at the golden spires and magnificent edifices of Shalandra that the reader's mind will turn towards the legends of the lost City of Gold, Cibola. But Shalandra is not a fable, nor made of gold. Instead, it is a city dedicated to the god if death. It enforces a rigid system of oppressive castes and in which lives can literally be ended on a whim.
Yet this is home to an indomitable feisty Blade wannabe, Issa, a remarkable character that tugs on your heart strings.
And there is the very able Aisha, a warrior woman bearing a secret burden that weighs her down.
Kodyn is an equally impressive fighter, with roots in the Night Guild. Tevren, again, is an accomplished thief on a mission of his own.
These are, for now, the main characters all in missions of their own in Shalandra.
Shalandra is, however, allso on the cusp of revolution, though few knows. And in this cauldron of mischief and corruption something has to give. And it is an open question as to what as these protagonists have to wrestle with inner misgivings as well as the harsh realities of Shalandra.
This epic fantasy of Andy Peliquin is convoluted and full of twists and nasty surprises and will keep the reader happily immersed in the story for hours on end.
It is indeed quite a long tome, yet you end up in being surprised it ended so quickly. Enjoy.

l
lana turner
A tale which grips you right from the start!

In the first book of Heirs of Destiny we travel along three threads of our different heroes lives which all finally arrive in Shalandra, the City of the Dead where a strict caste system is in place and where the priests wield the most power even though there is a Pharus who heads the Kingdom and a Head of the military, the Lady of Blades, who is also powerful. Kodyn and Aisha travel towards the city to bring home Lady Brianna who had been kidnapped and was saved by the members of the night guild in Praamis. They also come with their own agendas but are ill prepared for all the corruption they find here. Evren and Hailen also travel towards Shalandra with their own agenda in place and both groups come to steal two of the finest artefacts to be found and treasured in this city. Whilst Issa is a lower caste Shalandrian, who takes the challenge to become one of the blade's, defenders of the city. All three strands of these people's lives are woven in a beautifully intricate tale to give us a whole picture. Destiny has a habit of bringing people together when their lives are bound to one another even when they themselves don't know it. The action in this book is fast paced, the fighting as usual in all Peloquin's books is perfect down to it's finer details and the tension escalates as we live through our character's lives in the city of the dead. Peloquin's descriptions are very vivid whether these be in painting the ambience of the city, the fight scenes and even the weaponry used during these fights and I find these details a pleasure to absorb as they bring the story to life for me. The tale is gripping right from the start and I just cannot wait to go on reading book 2.