Book Highlight: The Hunter's Rede

Lorth of Ostarin is an assassin trained by a wizard unknown to his kind. He is paid very well to employ both the primeval darkness of a hunter and the ordered light of a mage, an uneasy combination he does not question until he returns home after a long assignment and trips into a turbid river of war, politics and the violation of all he holds dear. Lawless and adept, he picks no sides and takes no prisoners. When his wolfish ways get him imprisoned for crimes he did not commit, he discovers the deeper source of his ability and falls in love with a priestess who frees him to his fate. But the rift in his heart widens under the forces of love, loyalty and the occupation of his realm by a warlord who honors neither hunters nor wizards. To reclaim his homeland, Lorth must bow his head to death itself, a sacrifice that will transform him into the most powerful hunter the land has ever known.


Warm rain caressed the babargon trees that crouched on the rise overlooking the Anglorean outpost deep in the Tarthian jungle. In a land with no winter, the autumnal equinox had just passed; the new moon hung like a stagnant pool above the woolen cloud cover. As night stole the last of the light, fog settled into the shadows, muting voices, hiding movement and sinking its teeth into the imaginations of tired, wounded warriors.

An assassin gazed upon the captain's tent with the patience of a praying mantis. He did not need light to know where it stood. Unseen and unknown to all but the few who paid him, his tall, lean body draped between the weeping trees, he waited, his mind caressing the glimmering watch-web he had cast around his post to warn him of any unwitting intrusion.

In his homeland of Ostarin far to the north, they called him a hunter. Here, they called him kav'tib, which in their fluid tongue meant warlock, in no good terms. Icaros, the wizard who had raised him after the earth took his mother away, once said, "There is more to being a wizard than pretty tricks! The Keepers of the Eye know the minds of gods."

The hunter was far from that. But his tricks, such as they were, proved good enough for the Tarthian nobility. They had hired him for being lawless and without loyalties, a servant of the Old One, the primeval, feminine force of cycles, birth and death who knew all things even beyond the timeless ramparts of gods. Even so, he would not be the most skillful, highest paid assassin in Sourcesee without the things Icaros had taught him. He knew things beyond his multifaceted training as a warrior, things only wizards knew.

For seven years, he had hired out his services to the warlords of Tarth, an empire of wet, wooded lands that had as many boats as carts, a desolation of brackish marshes, towns on stilts, jungles dripping with moss and the warm, fragrant nectars of constant rain. All manner of life grew here, every kind of creature that crept, slithered, swam or flew, humans notwithstanding. These were bronze-skinned, tall, with rounded noses and deep-set eyes the color of swamps, eyes that knew the mysteries of things that flowed. Dominated by the Great Reson Fen near the borders of Anglorea, Tarth was known for its concoctions, everything from rich, heady drinks to narcotics, medicines—and of course, poisons.

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About the Author:

F.T. McKinstry grew up studying music and classical literature, and at a young age developed a deep love for fantasy and the esoteric, of which she was an avid reader. J.R.R. Tolkien was her most powerful influence. With a background in computer electronics and software development, she wrote and illustrated technical documentation for many years, during which time she created the fantasy world of Ealiron. A passion for fairy tales and a lifelong study of mythology, plant and animal lore, Celtic legend, shamanism, psychology and mysticism provide inspiration and scope for her work.

Book Highlight: Lisa's Way

Teenager Lisa Herbert lives in the small town of Mountain View on the planet Fairfield. The “Savage Rain” decades earlier shut down the hyperspace gate and isolated her world. A casual remark from her sister gets Lisa to ask a simple question: “If life was better before the ‘Savage Rain,’ why couldn’t it be better again?”
That question starts Lisa on a journey. She reactivates Fairfield’s H-gate and travels to three worlds. Each planet offers her a chance to improve life by hard work, by trade, or by making friends. She relies on her brains, her compassion, and a little sneakiness to solve the problems she faces. Lisa’s Way presents a heroine more interested in reasoning than fighting, and more concerned with doing good than looking good.
Lisa stared at the trio of armed young men standing in the middle of the road. They wore ragged clothes; their weapons were scuffed by age. She could hear movement in the woods one either side of the road. These three had allies under cover.
How many she didn’t dare to guess. She had fourteen on her side, not counting Wayne’s and Dave’s young children. If they were willing to confront her group they would need at least ten, including those three. She had two people with bows in front of each wagon. The eight riders had hand weapons.
They could take on these outlaws, no question. The three in front of her looked pretty lean. Maybe they’ve faced warriors before, but more than likely they haven’t. While her opponents might be hungry and outmatched, they did have combatants under cover. Her side would probably win, but not without losses.
Lisa remembered Coe’s warning about outlaws and robbers. That meant that killing them could make her a powerful enemy, or it could silence a source of information she'd need. It made fighting them awfully risky. That left her to choose between turning around and trying to talk to them.
I’ll talk. They won’t be expecting that. And maybe that gives me an advantage.
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About the Author:
I've had three SF novels published: "Monitor," "Lisa's Way," and "Expert Assistance." I've also had a coming of age novel published called "True Friends." I've had stories and articles appear in periodicals such as Marion Zimmer Bradley's Fantasy Magazine; Tales of the Talisman; Space Westerns; Sorcerous Signals; Wild West; and Model Railroader.

Book Highlight: Exit, Pursued by a Bee

Exit, Pursued by a Bee is driven by an Arizona-bred heroine-astronaut, involves a Palaeolithic mongrel call Kur, Glastonbury Festival chaos, steamy sex in space, a loose-cannon journalist and an out-of-control general. They are all involved in the attempt to overcome time-quake calamities created when alien artefacts depart from Earth, oblivious to the chaos they leave behind. This book smashes our assumptions about time in astonishing ways.
June 23rd Lunchtime on the mystical hill of Glastonbury. The famous festival music could just be heard.
She’d already told herself this was no ordinary earthquake. She’d experienced a few first hand in California, and they didn’t rumble on for ages like this. They come in short bursts, only seconds long. Yet the hill was shaking so much she had difficulty keeping her feet. She reached the piece of sandy-coloured limestone bedrock against which she’d first steadied herself, and aimed the digital videocam east, at the distant Glastonbury Festival. She’d expected to see emptying fields as the crowd escaped, but she could see on the distant giant screens, a rock group leaping and twisting as they belted out another musical gem.
Reaching the shallow fissure, she plunged the spade in. Why did she have an urge to dig? Defying logic she dug more in the mix of soil, turf and limestone. Another minor upheaval, releasing earthy smells into the air, sent her onto her back. She saw Derek thrown to the floor too as he tried to reach her. Back on her feet, her ears aching from the roaring noise, she raised the shiny new spade and stabbed again at the chasm, which had opened a little more. Again it merely struck limestone rubble, jarring her arm. An urge compelled her to see if anything just beneath the thin soil was responsible for this phenomenon. Was it a result of logical analysis that this event couldn’t be related to seismic disturbance nor volcanic? No. Her logic circuits partly worked that out but a more ethereal need drove her on. A feeling, intuition; a culmination of the esprit of Avalon, her scientific and engineering training, along with bloody-minded curiosity forced her to lift the spade again.
“Come back down, Kal. For God’s sake,” yelled Derek, his voice wailing across the thundering noises.
Clang. The spade hit another rock sending sparks where quartzite and steel met. Her nostrils pinched with a smell of burnt sulphur bringing memories of when as a child she smashed a lump of white and grey quartzite laced with yellow sulphur. She dropped the spade, which slithered further into the crack out of reach. She rested her enviably flat stomach on the ground, feeling small stones through her shirt. Stretching, she grabbed the handle. A strange tingling sensation travelled up her arm to her head. Totally, unlike anything she’d experienced, and she’d been through throb hell: stinging nettles on this hill, purple-striped jellyfish at Long Beach, and the literal hair-raising moment when a shuttle simulator became a stimulator with an accidentally electrified hull. But none of these buzzed her brain. Not that her grey matter was frying, but it had tingled. She had the prescience and presence of mind to consider that her arm was slipping in and out of phase, but it could’ve been the increased vibration.
“Kallandra. Good God, woman, come back down before you turn into a firework.”
“I will. Just let me get this spade.”
Although the shaking ground made upward travel more like a fairground ride, Derek managed to reach her. “Bugger the spade. You should’ve seen yourself.”
“I nearly did. What did you see?”
“Your hair stood up like a luminous porcupine.”
“That’ll be my blue highlights. I knew they’d set off my brown hair.”
“How can you be so calm? We’re in the middle of Armageddon.”
“That’s why I’m a pilot and you’re an engineer.”
“And spaceship designer. Your life support system would soon fizzle out—”
“Without your cunning design. I don’t underrate your genius, Derek, but you do panic unnecessarily. Now can you reach the spade handle? It’s slipped further down.”
“Leave it. I’ll buy you a dozen.”
“I want that one. Something’s happened to it. There, you have it.”
They both stared at the shiny business end. At least two inches was missing as if it had been dipped into the sun.
“That’s it,” Derek said, his voice trembling with fear in addition to the physical quivering. “It must be a volcano and we’re on top of it!”
“It can’t be. Feel the cut end, it’s cool.”
“For Heaven’s sake, Kal, you could’ve burnt yourself.”
“Life is one big chance event, Derek. Anyway, you win. Let’s go before these clouds of gnats suddenly remember we’re food.”
Purchase Exit, Pursed by a Bee at:
Note: When bought through the publishers Double Dragon Publishing the purchaser may freely download an Escape Velocity magazine.
About the Author:
Geoff Nelder has a wife, two grown-up kids, and lives in rural England within an easy cycle ride of the Welsh mountains.
Publications: Humorous thriller Escaping Reality in 2005; Award-winning science fiction mystery with hot-blooded heroine, Exit, Pursued by a Bee in 2008; Another thriller, Hot Air, was published in 2010 after receiving an Award d’Or from an Arts Academy in the Netherlands.; A science fiction trilogy, ARIA with an original premise is to be published in 2012 by LL-Publications.; An urban and historical magic realism fantasy, Xaghra’s Revenge, is in the hands of the Rebecca Pratt Literary Agency.
Having had around 50 short stories published, Geoff was chosen to be the short fiction judge for the Whittaker Prize, 2009. Geoff is an editor at Adventure Books of Seattle, and is a freelance editor for other writers.

Review: Osric's Wand

"Osric's Wand: The Wand Maker's Debate" by Jack D. Albrecht Jr & Ashley Delay

File Size: 475 KB
Published: August 28, 2011/September 21, 2011
Language: English
Paperback: 204 pages
ISBN-10: 1466269472
ISBN-13: 978-1466269477
Purchase: Kindle, Amazon Paperback, Barnes&Noble Paperback

Osirc’s Wand is a story about a young man who comes from the Vigile clan. At the beginning of the story, it’s duty as usual until a peace meeting among all the races goes horribly wrong. Osirc and company then goes on a journey filled with adventures and many old conspiracies and a prophecy is uncovered.

The characters were well developed and likeable. The world building was pretty good, but there may need to be may need to be some more emphasis on the backstory about why the rules and laws are the way they are and more about the “gifts of magic”. A few times there was something brought into the story that I didn’t see was essential to the story or there wasn’t any explanation of what that particular thing was or why it was important in its mention. A couple of the key characters that appear later in the story are introduced to us with their own side story, but they sort of come out of the blue and were complete strangers. At first, as a reader, I was wondering how they fit in or whether or not they were important until I followed them along until their side story unfolds and they meet up with Osric and company. The introduction to the dwarf was a bit jarring.

The action was pretty good once the journey had begun, but there was a bit too much description and fine detail in the environment where the action was taking place that seemed to slow down the pacing of the story quite a bit. At the beginning of the story it was hard to get into at first since I had to wade through all the extra details.

Overall though Osirc’s wand is an enjoyable story that will capture your imagination and the characters are endearing.

Reviewed by: A.K. Taylor

A free copy of this book was furnished by the author for review, but providing a copy did not guarantee a review. This information is provided per the regulations of the Federal Trade Commission.

Book Highlight: Crystal Shade: Ageni, Vol 1

"Thousands of stars could tell thousands of stories."
Seven year old Grace always dreamt of becoming a guardian angel; like those who guarded and guided her people and prepared to bravely fight in a dreaded mythical event, the Crystal Shade - which never came. It's not like Grace ever wanted to see Demons. Or wants to know what evil and darkness is - things that no one ever faced on her world and as the legends says, the Crystal Shade carries within -, nor does she want to die to be reborn as a guardian. But she thinks the mysterious life of angels is so noble, a fable that it sounds exciting - until it actually happens.
Crystal Shade: Angeni, Volume 1 explores the early life of a young daydreaming soul who is destined to reveal the forgotten past of her home world and to seek the answer to the eternal question; what the legendary Crystal Shade really is.
“Thousands of stars could tell thousands of stories,” whispered the old man with a gentle smile. “I hope others also see the story of our beautiful star.”
Decades creased the countenance of the weary old man. He propped himself at the balcony, the silky wind ruffling his grey hair. His aged eyes never tired of the stars that pierced the infinite night sky. But despite the enchanting skyscape, his soul, which desired endless peace, was restless. He had one final promise he had made ages ago still unfulfilled; to share the past with those living in the present. A long held secret, a story to tell. Sorrow embraced him, as he knew as the sun rose to greet a new day one unheard story would pass along with him to vanish for eternity. And the time was close.
His sigh as soft as the night breeze, the old man pulled his robe tighter around him before he wandered away from the balcony. Slippered feet chafed against the cold stone floor as he shuffled to the middle of the large hall. Images of fighting angels and demons in the agony of their long forgotten war adorned the eleven immense columns surrounding a strange chrono device.
Thousands of energy orbs formed the mass of a majestic miniature galaxy under the tip of the long tapered crystal shard. Each star, a shiny orb, in this chrono device shone its story, its own truth in sapphire, orange, red, green, and purple orbs were just a few among countless colors without a known name. Clear and bright, the shard hovered untethered over the middle of this tiny world like some large mystical sundial.
The little galaxy gracefully turned between the stalwart columns. So peaceful and magnificent, its true purpose was hidden behind its enchanting mask. The shard’s polished surface mirrored the tired face of the old man who watched the device with endless respect. His eyes focused on the shadow of the sundial, which slowly crept around the crystal shard. The shadow didn’t come from the sun, which slept beyond the horizon as night stood silent sentry outside. It came from the shard itself. Even now, some of the orbs within the crystal’s untouchable dark shadow slowly changed color.
The old man closed his eyes. He was still in the hall, but his mind was far away in a forgotten world.
Majestic golden and silver colored eagle shaped crafts appeared in the bright blue sky to fly in formation under the brilliance of the sapphire sun; its eternal glow reflected from their metal bodies and sectioned wings. The crafts dove into battle against hideous dark flying creatures. Like dozens of sleek predatory birds, they fought against the evil web-winged serpentine enemies. Hunted down one by one, the metal bird craft were ripped to pieces and their wrecks left to explode in the hot white sands, where yet another battle raged.
Among the white dunes, brave winged warriors, evil demons, and humans in their shiny armor battled desperately with their crystal weapons to challenge death itself.
Purchase Crystal Shade: Ageni, Volume 1 at:
(Retailer link collection is also available there for 11 additional retailers, including Amazon, Smashwords & Barnes and Noble. Paperback is also available via Amazon US and Createspace.). The episodic release of this book, Crystal Shade: Episodes is also available here. Crystal Shade C-Store
Official website (Check it out to see what this world is all about):
Readers also may download a free 26 pages long introductory PDF, Crystal Shade: Introducton. Check it out HERE
About the Author:
Based out of Budapest, Hungary, Istvan began his writing and art career at a young age. His strengths include Science Fiction, Fantasy, Thrillers, as well as Spiritual, Romantic, and Political works. At the beginning of his career, two companies entrusted Istvan to create and write the stories of two of their video games. Since 2007, working parallel on several different projects, Istvan mostly developed and worked on the Crystal Shade franchise and wrote Crystal Shade: Angeni. As an artist for hire, he has created illustrations, character art, short CGI animations and marketing materials for various projects as well as for his own works, Crystal Shade: Angeni, 7 Post Meridiem, Nightfall and other unannounced projects. In 2007, Istvan produced his first short movie "15 Minutes of Fame", in which Istvan was the screenwriter, director and storyboard artist. "15 Minutes of Fame" won 3rd Place at the UPC-AXN Film Festival 2007.

Review: The King's Bastard

"The King's Bastard: King Rolen's King Trilogy, Book 1" by Rowena Cory Daniells

File Size: 886 KB/849 KB
Print Length: 640 pages
Publisher: Rebellion Publishing Limited (July 13, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-13: 978-1849971782 (Ebook)
ISBN-13: 978-1907519017 (paperback
Purchase: Kindle, Nook, Paperback, Mass Market Paperback

This is what fantasy is all about! I was immediately sucked into the world created by Ms. Daniells. I fell in love with the main character, Byren, almost immediately and was rooting for him through the whole book.

I was so sad when the book ended - a cliffhanger that left me literally screaming to know what happened next. I felt the author left off at a bad spot of the plot line - almost in the middle of the climax. I would have preferred, even with things left open, to have it stop at a more quiet part of the story line, rather than the middle of the action. It was simply an abrupt stop.

However, I loved this book. It has a bit of everything in it - politics, magic, love, friendship, treachery, intrigue, adventure - and the list goes on! I couldn't stop turning the pages, wanting to know what happened to the main characters of the story, praying they didn't have one more bad thing happen to them. I highly recommend this book to fantasy readers everywhere -really anyone who loves a great book!

Reviewed by: Anastasia V. Pergakis

A free copy of this book was furnished by the author for review, but providing a copy did not guarantee a review. This information is provided per the regulations of the Federal Trade Commission.