Hey everyone! I’m really stoked to take a brief break today from my normal blogging schedule to announce the release date and reveal the cover of “The King’s Sons,” book 3 in the Herezoth trilogy.
I’m particularly excited because–being unemployed and all–I’ve had lots of time to work with the proof copy and am well on my way to concluding final edits. So, I’ll be able to release a lot sooner than my original internal projections, which put me around August or September.
FRIDAY, MAY 31
Rexson Phinnean has ruled Herezoth for twenty-five years, mostly in peace. But now a group of powerful sorcerers, snubbed when the king founded the Magic Council ten years before, have joined forces to attack the village of Partsvale and exact revenge. Can the king stop them? Will his spy, the sorcerer Duke of Ingleton, make it out alive? And when sorceress Kora Porteg violates the terms of her banishment to return from Traigland to offer the king her aid, along with three of her children, what chaos will ensue?
Ok, just a few notes before I give you guys a glimpse into the novel with the full prologue (also included in the back of “The Magic Council,” the trilogy’s book 2.)
- I have the best cover designer EVER. Please consider contacting Brad Covey if you ever have cover design needs. He is wonderful. He’s told me to feel free to hand out his email address to anyone who asks for it, so contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you’d like his contact and pricing info. I’d love to refer him some business!
- My beta readers are FABULOUS. And I love them. You guys know who you are: again, I LOVE YOU. The novel has improved crazy wall-bouncing amounts thanks to your questions, comments, and courage to tell me, “This part just didn’t work for me.” I’m confident now that everything holds together. And I really think this book is the best one I’ve written. I guess it should go that way, right? Each one should be better than the previous.
- About this prologue: I think it’s one of the most powerful scenes I’ve ever written. Please note that while no graphic detail is described, it does entail some violence and implies a sexual assault. It’s appropriate for age 15+, I’d say. I hope you enjoy it!
THE KING’S SONS PROLOGUE
Francie Rafe had worked on the king’s Magic Council for ten years now, so the budgets she studied, all for the school the council had founded as its first project, were nothing unfamiliar. If anything, she deemed them mundane. They lay amidst a clutter of dishes, glasses, inkwells mostly empty, and a roll of clean parchment on the only large table she owned. The high summer sun was bright as its warmth filtered through the thin curtains set before the windows.
Francie had lived alone in one of Podrar’s newer lodging houses for some twenty-odd months. She held no affection for the building, and wished such large and impersonal monstrosities had kept to Yangerton where they belonged. Yangerton, Herezoth’s largest city, needed them to house its vast population, but Francie couldn’t deny Podrar’s numbers had been growing, and quickly. Renting an apartment in a lodging house was cheap, was all Francie could afford after paying for one of her school’s poorer students to study at the Carphead Academy.
Her long, strawberry blonde hair, which had dulled as she approached thirty years of age, kept from her face thanks to a thick cloth tie that hit the back of her neck each time she lifted her head. She studied the various budgets with large, dark eyes; she had to determine which proposal to support, and thought the one that cut funds from groundskeeping was probably the best. It used the extra coin to pay teachers a larger salary, which Francie liked. The increase wasn’t as much as they deserved, but it was something, and would show the crown and council did not take their work for granted.
Francie certainly didn’t. She knew how important the Academy was. Many of its students had magic, which wasn’t an easy talent for a child in Herezoth to possess. Francie would know; the sense of touch had always been a problem for her. She was far too sensitive to it. Upon touching an object, any object, she routinely felt overwhelmed by the emotions of the last person to have done the same. She felt what they had felt. Their anger, fear, confidence, or insecurity might well have been her own. Francie loathed the power she could not escape, but it was her qualification for the Magic Council. The king had only appointed empowered individuals, due to the nature of the work and the council’s aim to give a repressed sector of society a voice in his court.
The school needed more scholarships, that was the real trouble. Luckily, the Magic Council was finding donors: well-to-do merchants from Yangerton, or owners of the flourishing pulp mills north of Podrar. Francie was meeting with a banker in two days; she hoped he might agree to fund a student’s education. People were finally acknowledging the value of educating students with magic powers alongside classmates who had no more magic than a wooden beam, after years of….
Francie jerked her head toward the door. She thought she’d heard something. More precisely, she’d heard someone, a footstep on the wooden floor before the edge of her tattered green rug. She could see no one, though, and her door hadn’t budged.
“Vane?” she called. Her sorcerer coworker. Only sorcerers could turn invisible. She wasn’t expecting him, and he’d never called on her unannounced, let alone transported himself in. Was somebody with her? Francie tensed for one dreadful, prolonged moment.
Utter silence. She must be imagining things. She had hardly slept last night, hardly ever slept as much as her body told her she should. There was so much work to do….
Francie would never know whether the force that struck her hard across the face, like a fist, was actually an invisible, clenched hand or the result of a whispered spell she hadn’t heard. It knocked her sideways, off her chair. When a similar punch slammed into her stomach, pushing the air from her lungs, she banged the back of her head. The worn rug between her and the floor provided little padding. Her mind would have been racing, in a panic, but thinking hurt too much. She groaned, her pounding heart making her chest throb. This wasn’t Vane….
He had auburn hair like Vane, though. And was definitely a sorcerer. He made himself visible with a word that sounded like nonsense to Francie; she studied him as she scooted away, toward her second-hand sofa and the open bedroom. He towered before her, between her and the front door. He was bearded, and one of the tallest men Francie had ever seen. His nose was pointed, majestic, and to judge by his unlined face, he was not much older than she was. The clothing he wore—a cotton shirt and breeches—was worn, artisanal, and unremarkable. Francie had never set eyes on this man in her life, but he glared at her with enough hatred in his face that they could have been lifelong enemies.
Through the tremors of fear that shook her, and then of pain as he kicked her in the side, Francie couldn’t reason a motive for this attack. The man was a sorcerer. The king had created the Magic Council to serve the needs of people like him. Why would he assault a councilor?
Francie couldn’t keep pace with her swift, shallow breaths, each riddled with aches. “Please,” she gasped, “Why are you…? What do you…?”
He wouldn’t tell her what he wanted. His response was another kick, one with enough momentum to turn her to her stomach. Francie reached a hand to her head; she felt a knot and the sticky wetness of blood before he ripped away the cloth that bound her hair, flipped her back over, and gagged her. He held her down with a knee on her gut and made sure she saw him clutching the fabric for a full thirty seconds before he forced it in her mouth. She knew better than to scream, to alert others. He could slay any neighbors who tried to help her with a simple incantation as they opened the door, assuming they progressed that far. Francie had the entrance bolted.
The gagging was when she realized what she was facing. She might not know this man, but he knew her. He could easily have silenced her with a spell. Most any sorcerer would have; that would have been faster than a physical gag, and less risky. This man, though, bore a personal grudge against her, whoever he was. She knew by his vile, triumphant smirk what his intention was in using that cloth to subdue her. He would torment her with her own magic.
With the gag pressing against her swelling face, Francie felt the purity of this man’s hatred like a toxin in her blood. His jealousy numbed her fingers. She hurt too completely to wonder what he might envy about her. Her place on the council? All she knew for certain was the extent of her peril. With those emotions raging he would want to cut her down, to show her she was nothing and meant nothing, her and her piddling magic that was more of a liability than an asset.
The numbness in Francie’s hand spread up her arm. Her gut convulsed, and the sorcerer, whoever he was, removed her gag so she wouldn’t choke on the contents of her stomach but instead spew them across the rug. The saving gesture was no assurance he would not kill her; he just wanted his way with her first.
When she finally stopped heaving, the man spoke a second incantation. Francie was no sorceress; she had little knowledge of spells, no concept of his magic’s intent, and she cried out in a panic despite her previous determination not to.
No sound issued from her. When gagging failed, he’d resorted to a muting spell to keep her quiet. Now he slammed her head against the floor as she struggled in desperation, which worsened her previous injury and almost knocked her unconscious. She resisted no further after that. She had no strength to. He bound her hands behind her back with the cloth he’d removed from her mouth, and a prideful gloating now, in combination with the previous emotions, made her feel feverish as he fell upon her.
“The King’s Sons,” as I said, is book 3 in a trilogy. If you’re interested in catching up before it comes out, Book 1 is “The Crimson League”and is on sale right now for 99 cents on amazon.com. It has 4.5 stars and a brand new cover by Brad Covey, the same designer as “The King’s Sons.”