I thought a lot about doing this, and weighed the pros and cons in my mind. There are arguments that it’s tacky, or in poor taste. There are arguments that it invites negativity (negativity on the internet? Who knew?). But at the end of the day, online reviews drive business in the modern world. At times, not having reviews can be more damaging than negative reviews. People want to see that a product is at least gaining opinions. So I’ve decided to do something that I, at first, thought was a bad idea, and even still feels a little uncomfortable. I’m going to ask for reviews, and even give you reasons why they are very important.
So yeah, if you’ve read one of my books, please go to either Amazon.com or Goodreads.com and review it. Pretty please.
Reasons why you should review books you've read:
1. You’re tired of the entertainment industry rehashing the same old stuff.
Are you sick of getting a new Spiderman movie every five years with all new actors and the same old origin story? Can’t believe they’re trying to turn another TV show from the 80s into a movie? Can’t help but wonder why they never seem to give a chance to new and original stories? It’s because the people in this world with power and money are not necessarily great creators. They’re not even people who have great opinions. They are just people with a lot of money, and they don’t want to invest money in something that won’t be successful. So they stick to the same old stuff that has worked in the past, because all they care about is making more money.
Your review is the only way you can let those people know you’ve found something new, original, and worthy of their investment. Seeing a review is the only way those bigwigs will give something new a chance.
2. Do you believe in the Shop Small principle?
Independent authors are the “little guy” of the novel market. We aren’t backed by big publishing houses with a ton of money to sink into advertising. We don’t have big names that will help us sell books for years and years. It’s hard for us to get readers, because it’s hard for us to get people to notice us.
The only way the little guy gets noticed is if people give us reviews. It’s the same principle as with your favorite local eatery, and your favorite local boutique shop. Independent authors have the same struggles. Reviews are our lifeblood.
3. Did you read a book that was free?
Why do you think the author is giving their book away for free? I’ll give you a hint, it’s not because we think of ourselves as a non-profit organization just trying to increase the readership of the poor or downtrodden. We are not literary Jesuses. (Is Jesuses plural for Jesus? Or is it Jesi?). We are trying to get reviews.
It’s an unspoken social contract, just like the food sample booth at a festival. “Here’s a taste. If you like it come back and buy some, and please tell your friends.” Giving a review is an incredibly easy, quick and free way to reward someone who gave you something for free.
4. Did you really like a story/character and want to see it/them continue?
Authors usually won’t keep going with something they don’t think was very successful. Let them know if you want more. Don’t be shy. I mean, don’t get weird about it like that lady in Stephen King’s Misery, but you know what I mean. This is one of the instances where someone really wants your opinion. Take advantage of it. Review the book. You might very well be the reason a series goes one book longer, or the reason a character is resurrected for another book.
So, there you go. I asked nicely (did you notice the pretty please?), and gave you four good reasons why you should take two minutes to review the books you read. Who knows, your review could help make a career, or your lack of a review could help end one. You have a lot of power. Use it.
And if you have read and reviewed one of my books, thank you. I will always be sincerely grateful for the time you took to do so, and you may have improved my life and warmed my heart in ways you’ll never know. Again, THANK YOU!
A story my mother often tells involves a porcelain clown and its subsequent demise at the hands of her favorite son. As legend would have it—yes, legend—my two-year-old self decided the clown was an affront to humanity, and smashed it with a baseball before it could infect the world with its evil. It’s not a particularly interesting story, but it comes up whenever conversation turns to clown phobia, which many people admittedly have. I suppose the story serves as a confirmation for those who are afraid of clowns. It’s a parable that verifies—yes, indeed—clowns are inherently evil, even a two-year-old child can see that.
A not-so-interesting fact never mentioned in the story’s retelling is that while my two-year-old self was shattering that porcelain clown in 1982, Stephen King was holed up in Bangor, Maine, writing his horror classic “It.” For those who don’t know, “It” is a story about children fighting against an evil entity that has taken the form of a clown.
The more I think about that coincidence the creepier it gets. It’s not an earth-shattering coincidence the likes of which would make someone believe in the supernatural and immediately tremble in fear. The fear is subtle; it gnaws at you. It causes that moment of discomfort in the recesses of your brain, and then you begin doubting reality.
It’s an unspectacular coincidence, my mind says. Something like it probably happened to tons of kids at that time. It’s a stupid thought...
But it IS sort of weird…
And then, of course, the overactive imagination takes over. What if King was literally writing at the moment I stopped and turned to look at the porcelain clown? What if it was a particularly grisly scene where a child was being attacked by the big baddie of King’s novel, Pennywise the Clown? What if I stared at the porcelain clown in my bedroom and heard the clack-clack of a distant typewriter just as a chill ran the length of my back? Maybe I grabbed the baseball at that moment for comfort; never letting my eyes leave the motionless porcelain clown, intuition telling me something was wrong. Maybe at that exact second Stephen King was typing the description of Pennywise the Clown reaching toward young Ben Hanscom, while in my bedroom I saw—or thought I saw—the eyes of my porcelain clown move ever so slightly in my direction. Maybe a voice echoed in my head asking me if I wanted a balloon. Maybe it told me I could float. Maybe at that moment the red painted smile of the porcelain clown opened slowly to reveal a row of jagged rotting teeth, and terrified, I threw the baseball as hard as I could, wishing for it all to end.
Maybe our imaginations can run away with us sometimes.
I recently read Stephen King’s “It,” after wanting to see the new movie, but procrastinating long enough that it had left my local theater. Reading the book seemed a good substitute. I won’t review the book here, as it seems a foolish thing to do more than thirty years after the release of said book. Especially when the book is already considered a classic of its genre. My opinion seems rather inconsequential. I will say this, however: “It” haunts me.
I sit and think about why the book haunts me, and it is not just the story, its themes, and concepts I can’t shake. I’m haunted by the real life inception of the book. I’m haunted by the possibilities of what was going on in Stephen King’s head when he wrote “It.”
It would take a lot more writing than a simple blog post to really dive into this topic—and frankly, I don’t really want to dive into it—but boiled down to its essence is this: Stephen King wrote a horror book about terrible things happening to a group of eleven-year-old kids (six boys; one girl), and he began writing this book just a few months after his own daughter had turned eleven. Again, his daughter turned eleven, and King spent the next four years writing about terrible things happening to children of her age. He wrote things violent, he wrote things emotional, and he even wrote things sexual.
Now, I understand that as writers we very often take inspiration from our own lives to create stories. That is not a new concept by any means. I used my own experience with adopting a rescue dog to fuel the story of “The Dean Machine.” To a large degree, I get it. But I just can’t get past the idea of having an eleven-year-old-daughter and then writing “It.”
I suppose if I really think about it, it’s only natural to be afraid that certain things might happen to your daughter. You want to protect her from life and its pitfalls. Your mind might go to some dark places when thinking of the things you want to protect her from, and as a writer you might use your own fears to fuel your work.
But in “It,” the thing that terrifies, and abuses the little girl the most isn’t the clown, or even the outside world. The bad guy in her life is her father. It’s as if Stephen King’s greatest fear for his daughter, was what he might do to her. I can’t shake the feeling that Stephen King wrote “It” to scare himself. Like the book is his own personal worst nightmare.
I don’t know. I’m probably over thinking all of this. But I guess that’s what I find haunting. The idea that maybe our imaginations can run away with us sometimes.
Dylan Lee Peters is the author of the fantasy adventure series "Everflame," the sci-fi fantasy "The Dean Machine," and most recently the epic fantasy series "The Hands of Ruin."
I went to see Thor: Ragnarok this weekend with my wife, and I left the theatre sort of disappointed. When my wife asked me if I liked the movie, I sort of shrugged, made some nondescript male grunting noise, and followed that up with, “I thought it was going to be like Guardians of the Galaxy.”
(Quick side note: when you type “gua” into Google search, Guardians of the Galaxy is the first thing that comes up. This is a heresy against guacamole I will not stand for).
My wife’s obvious but poignant comment was, “It’s a Thor movie, not a Guardians of the Galaxy movie.”
… and I guess the truth is I just wanted another Guardians of the Galaxy movie. So why did I go to a Thor movie wanting to see something other than Thor? Why did I expect that? Am I mentally defective?
While that last question can certainly be debated, it stands to reason that something caused me to think Thor: Ragnarok might be styled more like a Guardians movie. My only thought while walking out of the theatre was that the “buzz” had gotten to me. Damn it all, shaking a fist at the sky, I fell prey to one of the classic blunders. Inconceivable.
We’re all aware of the “buzz.” It’s the separate but not equal bastard child of all modern entertainment. It’s the shadow monster hanging over Hawkins, Indiana. It’s what makes people who don’t like high fantasy watch Game of Thrones. It’s the reason I know who Kendrick Lamar is even though I haven’t listened to rap music since I was in middle school. It’s the reason people who can’t even spell the word government think they know exactly who should be elected to each and every public office in our country. I mean can you imagine if we allowed the masses to elect other positions of societal importance like doctors? Or scientists? The species would be dead in a week…
Oh, shit… went off the rails… recalculating...
But the point is that it was the “buzz” around Thor: Ragnarok that had me thinking it would be like a Guardians movie. To be fair, the inclusion of bright cosmic colors in Thor were reminiscent of Guardians, there was a fair amount of comedy in Thor that was not present in the earlier movies, and there were two action sequences that happened while Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” were blaring from the speakers. And in those moments the movie did seem very Guardians-esque. However, if you’re going to the theatre expecting to see a Thor movie that is a Guardians of the Galaxy movie, like me, you will be disappointed.
Yet, the people who run Marvel Studios did this on purpose. This buzz was not organic. It was purposeful and intended. Thor was not as popular or profitable as Guardians of the Galaxy, so the executives used the power of Guardians to propel Thor. And it worked. The amount of money Marvel Studios made this past weekend is embarrassing. Now those executives are one step closer to replacing their souls with liquid cash. (Ah, the American Dream). All while fools like me forked over their money for something less than.
But I’m not complaining. Hell, I’m impressed. Touché, Marvel Studios executives. Because the truth is, we all want to replace our souls with liquid cash.
But seriously, all of us who create—whether it be movies, or books, or any product—we all wish we could generate that kind of buzz to drive people to our work. We all wish we could take something that already has power and use it to convince people to consume our goods. People who create are rarely also good sales people. I mean, trying to convince you to consume my goods sounds so dirty, doesn’t it?
Alas… I really want you to consume my goods (sigh)… so in homage to Marvel and the American Dream, let’s stir up some buzz for my newest series of novels, The Hands of Ruin.
The Hands of Ruin series has a secret family lineage thing, and a mystical force-like power thing just like Star Wars. So if you like Star Wars, you will love The Hands of Ruin!
The Hands of Ruin has two teenage kids being forced to live with a crappy family member, and have all sorts of bad stuff happen to them before they find out they have previously unknown powers, just like in Harry Potter. So if you liked Harry Potter, you will absolutely fall in love with The Hands of Ruin!
The Hands of Ruin has a badass female character both beautiful and strong who is constantly thrown into horrible situations where she has to fight against the establishment, just like The Hunger Games. If you like The Hunger Games than you are doing yourself an obscene and cruel injustice by not reading The Hands of Ruin!
The Hands of Ruin has shocking scenes like Game of Thrones. The Hands of Ruin and Game of Thrones might as well be exactly the same thing except different and not derivative!
Do you remember the fantastical things you loved from your childhood? Jim Henson stuff? Transformers stuff? Pokémon stuff? The Hands of Ruin is just like all of those things! Don’t deprive your inner child any longer!
Phew… there, I did it… and yes, I feel terribly dirty. But now there’s buzz, so go forth and spread the buzz. And I’ll leave you with this one more shameful and completely tangential connection from something you like to my new book series. I assume you came here because this blog post was about Thor: Ragnarok. I’m assuming you like Thor. Well…
The Hands Of Ruin is THOR in acronym. So there!
(insert hand gesture)
(insert fart noise)
(drop mic… walk away… prepare to rule the world after buzz takes hold)
• • •
Dylan Lee Peters is an unstable individual who has written seven novels all of which you should probably be reading. Actually, remove the probably from that sentence. It’s too wishy-washy.
Download book one of The Hands of Ruin series for FREE here.
I’d like to rant for a minute. What is the point of facebook? Or what I really mean is, I’m not sure I should be using facebook anymore, what’s the point? My page says that 560 people like my page and 527 people follow my page, but a post I made over two weeks ago–a post that I pinned–has only “reached” 110 people. So that means that 450 people that “like” what I post don’t get to see it, and 417 people who want to “follow” what I post don’t get to see it. Three days ago I posted a link of new content for those who like and follow my page, FREE content for that matter, and it has “reached” only 53 people. Seriously? I can’t even use facebook to notify people who want me to notify them that I have free content for them…
So it seems all facebook is good for at this moment is to function as a personal scrapbook. As I am very likely the only person who sees everything I post, the logical conclusion is that facebook is just an echo chamber; a mirror that reflects ourselves to ourselves for what? Mental masturbation?
Or maybe the truth is that facebook is merely a place to gather everyone so big businesses have a captive audience for their advertisements. After all, 90% of my facebook notifications are the facebook ad team telling me how great it would be for me if I paid them for advertising. Only if you’re willing to pay enough can you get your content to people who have “liked” you, or “followed” you. And there is a Universal Studios ad prominently displayed on my news feed, and I’ve never “liked” or “followed” them. It seems facebook is no longer a part of the “social network” but more a tool of the capitalist network. I understand ads pay for something that is otherwise free, but what is facebook at this point other than an ad machine?
But maybe I’m being too harsh. Maybe I’m just being a whiner. Maybe I haven’t told enough people that they’re #SAD or #losers. Maybe I just don’t understand how best to use facebook.
I guess I should just call the Russians. They seem to have figured it out.
And honestly, I’m not really worried about someone reading this and thinking less of me for complaining and being negative.
I’ll be posting this on facebook. No one will see it anyway.
There is a chapter in The Dean Machine where Perkins is injured, and the group is forced to spend prolonged time in the Moda ruins. It is during this time we first hear of Perkins’ favorite music group.
• • •
Perkins huffed, frustrated with being a burden. The hours were the longest for him. Wendy could leave the room, Echo could leave the room, and even Dean could leave the room, but he was forced to just lie there. He told stories as the only way to keep his mind from plunging itself into madness. Wendy and Echo listened to him all through the day. They understood that he was suffering the most, physically and mentally, so they placated him and listened as he talked about his training at the Vermilion Military Academy, his childhood in the West Heights of the city, anything really; even stories about his affinity for the songs of the Randomkind, a four-member music group that no one else present had ever heard of.
• • •
Later in that chapter, after Echo and Wendy have an argument, Perkins recites some lyrics from a song to help Echo put the argument into perspective.
• • •
Wendy turned away from her argument with Echo, mere feet from where Perkins sat, and stormed off into the hut, angry tears streaking her face. Dean followed her, ready to console his friend. Echo watched as she disappeared into the building and threw her arms up in frustration. The woman turned to Perkins as he stared off into the sky. “Can you believe her?” she asked.
He turned and looked at her, and then sang some words of a song he knew: “Life is just a picture that can never be framed. You can try if you like, but you’ll end up insane. Nothing’s all right if you’ve never been wrong, I’m gonna take me away on the wings of a phoenix song.”
“Is that a song from that weird band you like?”
“It is a song from that weird band I like.”
“And are those words supposed to mean anything?”
“Hell, I don’t know,” Perkins admitted. “They might be drunken ramblings. They might be astute observations—I just like the tune.”
• • •
Now for the first time, you can hear that tune Perkins liked so much: “Phoenix Song” by The Randomkind. This audio file has been recovered from the remnants of the hive by IONH agents, and transmitted to me from the future. (Yes, I know I’m crazy… just go with it). Enjoy ;)
All of my books take place in the same “universe.” What I mean by that is all of my books take place in and around our earth, but a parallel version. This sounds kind of strange, but it’s a very popular concept used in speculative entertainment (books, TV, and motion picture). The MARVEL cinematic universe is a great example. The adventures of the Avengers take place in and around earth, our earth, albeit a very different version. My books follow this same model, and I’ve provided a visual to help explain that, a sort of timeline.
While the Everflame series, and The Dean Machine have almost nothing to do with each other, elements of those stories come together in a new storyline that is The Hands of Ruin series.
The first and most obvious example of this is the introduction of Echo Valkzdokker in The Hands of Ruin: Book One. Echo was the main heroine of The Dean Machine, and The Hands of Ruin, in part, explains what happens to Echo after her departure from the hive. Her story is intertwined with the main characters of The Hands of Ruin and she has a prominent role in both Book One and Book Two.
The second example is the mythology of the Everflame series living on in the land of Ferren, a place featured prominently in The Hands of Ruin. In fact, the four tribes of Ferren are named for characters that fans of the Everflame series are likely to recognize (Whiteclaw tribe, Zehnder tribe, Andor tribe, and Tiber tribe). Below is an excerpt from The Hands of Ruin: Book One that describes two characters walking into the Temple of Origin, a sacred place in Ferren that celebrates the past history of the Everflame series.
• • •
The men walked into an expansive entrance chamber, with glass windows in the ceiling that bathed an ornately sculpted fountain in sunlight. It looked as if the rays of the sun were sent down from the heavens for no other reason than to shine on the fountain. Endemall was not going to admit it, but Gildwyn had been right. The Temple of Origin was impressive, and he found himself closing his open jaw for fear of looking wonderstruck.
“The fountain is sculpted in white stone and is hundreds of years old,” Gildwyn told Endemall as they walked through the main room. “I assume you recognize the likenesses of the Ancients.”
Endemall nodded, still silent in a reverence he hadn’t anticipated. The great sculpture was beautiful, a statue of three of the four ancient creators of man. Tenturo the griffin and Bahknar the dragon were standing back to back, while the beautiful mermaid Chera sat at their side, delivering water into the fountain from her gracious hands. Endemall knew all these deities from the stories of his youth, but he had never been as mesmerized by them as he was now.
However, the beauty of the fountain was nothing in comparison to the majesty of the gigantic mural painted on the far wall behind it. As the men passed the fountain and the sun’s rays now fell behind them, Endemall sighed audibly at the mural that extended up the entire thirty-foot height of the wall.
“You weren’t kidding, were you, Nye?” Endemall was floored.
“I assume you recognize the scene the mural depicts,” Gildwyn said.
“Of course.” Endemall was like a child at the foot of his heroes. “That’s the moon god, Densa, in his battle against the Great Tyrant, and above them is the sun god, Evercloud. My father used to tell my brother and me that story of old Earth almost every night before we were sent to bed. It’s like that mural was painted right out of my imagination.”
• • •
The final example of how my stories come together in The Hands of Ruin might be the most exciting for fans of the Everflame series. I don’t want to give too much away, but in The Hands of Ruin: Book Two we see the return of a major character from Everflame. It may seem farfetched given the amount of time that has elapsed between Everflame and The Hands of Ruin, but keep in mind that Ferren is a place filled with a mystical substance called zulis that Masters wield in amazing ways. Zulis can be used for good, and it can be used for evil. It can be used to destroy, and it can be used to resurrect.
Please check out The Hands of Ruin, and I hope you enjoy!
The Hands of Ruin: Book One is available for FREE on kindle, nook, iBooks, and kobo
The Hands of Ruin: Book Two is also available from the same retailers.
Well, not really... but maybe.
First, let me start with a bit of background. Here's a little something you may not know about me: I'm a pretty rabid Boston Celtics fan. My wife will attest to this, as she has had to cover the dogs' ears many a time to protect their innocence from the colorful language that spouts from my mouth while watching Celtics' games.
My fandom began when I was a child, and notable Celtics player, Dee Brown, came to my local mall to put on a dunk show. After the show I got his autograph which I have since lost, because, well...kids suck at keeping stuff. But my fandom was solidified at that point, and I spent the next few years of my childhood dreaming of becoming the next great NBA player. High school appropriately beat that dream out of me, but the love of basketball never died, and I've followed the Boston Celtics ever since.
This brings us to my current clairvoyance.
Back in May, the Celtics were in the act of evaluating draft prospects, as they fortuitously held the rights to draft number one overall in the 2017 NBA Draft. There were a handful of young players who were talented enough to be considered as the number one overall draft pick, so prior to the draft the Celtics organization held workouts for each of the top prospects in order to gauge who to choose. However, one young player, Lonzo Ball, decided he would not be working out for the Celtics. (You may have heard of this young man, or at least of his father, LaVar, who has been known to spout nonsense like a volcano spouts ash. In fact, it was the general consensus in the sporting world that LaVar cared more about television appearances than he cared about his son… but I digress).
Celtics fans were somewhat miffed at the snub, but there was also a fair amount of expressed relief that the fanbase would not have to deal with the hijinks of LaVar. I frequent a highly regarded Celtics fan blog called Celticsblog, and in May they aptly posted an article detailing the aforementioned snub.
Along with many other fans, I took to the comments section of the blog to voice my own opinion of the situation, and of the Balls in general.
I give it 6 months before “Ball in the Family” is the next reality TV hit for E!
Well, it looks like I had the media outlet wrong, but here we are about to enter September and what should pop up on facebook? A reality show titled “Ball in the Family,” starring none other than the aforementioned volcano of nonsense.
I think I might play the lottery tonight.
In The Hands of Ruin series, masters of the mystical substance zulis can bond with a jawhar. A jawhar is a spirit-like companion who bonds with a zul master through meditative use of zulis. To the unknowing, a jawhar can easily be mistaken for a common animal. Here’s an excerpt as example:
“It’s not a dog,” Mitt said, straightening up and stepping away from his work at repairing a busted ale keg. “We’ve been over this.”
“I don’t care what it is, Mitt.” Dell raised her thin eyebrows and pointed back out toward the dining room. “Jailhair, junehoard—whatever you called it, I want it gone. It’s ruining business.”
Mitt sighed and rubbed the back of his neck. “It’s called a jawhar, Dell, and if you think I can get rid of it, you’ve lost your mind. I’ve got about as much control over that thing as I have over the sun. As I told you last time, send for Master Ah’Rhea. She’s the only one who can make it leave.”
Few zul masters are skilled enough to have bonded with a jawhar. In fact, only four zul masters in all of Ferren have Jawhars. In the following excerpt, zul master Ah’Rhea Eneoh interacts with her Jawhar, Reego.
The jawhar spun around and barked, obviously delighted with himself. He dipped his head back into the feffer fruit, and Ah’Rhea smiled. She popped a few ripe yellow berries into her mouth and shook her head. She would always have a soft spot for Reego. He was, after all, bonded to her for life. She sipped her wine and leaned back in her chair. There were only four zul masters in Ferren who had jawhars, and Reego was the only one who had manifested to look like a wild dog. Obviously, Ah’Rhea loved the form her jawhar had chosen. Reego knew her desires and preferences better than anyone ever had, or possibly ever would. The two shared a bond that transcended both mind and body in a way that was not easily defined.
She watched as Reego enjoyed his fruit, wagging his bushy white-and-brown tail. His tall tufted ears brushed the edges of the bowl in a way that made Ah’Rhea smile. She leaned forward and petted the motley little fool while he ate. His fur was soft and light as it brushed against Ah’Rhea’s fingers, and the exercise of petting him added to her feeling of tranquility.
Reego wasn’t a dog, but Ah’Rhea often treated him like one, and Reego didn’t seem to mind. If a stranger were to watch them now, he or she would see merely a thirty-pound wild dog with brown-and-white coloring, a flared, bushy tail, tufted ears, and shaggy paws. The only element of Reego’s appearance that set him apart from a normal wild dog was that he had allowed Ah’Rhea to braid the long hair under each of his tall ears and cinch a gold ringlet at the end of each braid. They slapped now against the bowl as he made for the berries at its bottom. Ah’Rhea drank from her cup and enjoyed the company of her best friend.
The story of how she had bonded with Reego wasn’t especially exciting. It wasn’t a feat of dangerous adventure that allowed a zul master to bond with a jawhar but a feat of time, persistence, and self-discovery. Obviously, zulis was needed for the task, but a jawhar bonded to a zul master only in a moment of deep introspection and understanding.
And here’s another excerpt further describing the bonding of a Jawhar to a zul master.
Ah’Rhea remembered the moment Reego had finally come forward, the rain pounding her tiny little hut tucked into the humid mountains. She had recited the incantation over and over, whispering it so softly she could barely hear her own words. She had finally discovered the catalyst that had led her to the idea of becoming a zul master, that spark that had lit her mind when she first learned of the jawhars. It had been knowledge, the pursuit of knowing all things, that had brightened Ah’Rhea’s soul. But it was more than that. It was also the desire to have her knowledge carried forward through time so it may shape the future world and all within it. Her knowledge would be like a metaphysical entity rolling infinitely through time and space, gathering and increasing as it traveled, becoming capable of all possibility, capable of stimulating genesis.
“Come now, my jawhar,” she had said.
Her eyes had opened to the sound of something faintly sniffing the air. She had sat motionless as he stood before her, evaluating her, cautiously surveying all she was, with his back straight and his head low. In that moment, Ah’Rhea knew so much about him. She could feel it within like the beating of her very heart. His name was Reego, and he was the manifestation of Ah’Rhea’s soul. He was the piece of her that would live forever.
Reego had moved forward, keeping his bright gaze fixed on her as she sat motionless, kneeling on the floor of the green hut. When he was so close that she could feel the gentle draft of his breath, she nodded at him slowly, and then he placed his head on her shoulder. Her jawhar had accepted her. Ah’Rhea Eneoh, zul master of Ferrenglyn, had bonded with her jawhar, and he would carry her soul forward into eternity.
I’ve selected a few excerpts from The Hands of Ruin: Book One to introduce one of the series’ prominent characters, Ah’Rhea Eneoh. Ah’Rhea is a zul master who lives in the cliffside caves that overlook the great chasm in the valley floor of Ferrenglyn.
• • •
Ah’Rhea sat high above the valley floor, amid the stillness of the land. The warm breeze moved gently against the thick black curls of hair that fell down across her chest, and it carried the sweet vanilla scent that came from the chasm in the valley floor. She set her dirty hands in her lap, closed her bright-green eyes, and enjoyed the moment of tranquility. Aside from the touch of the breeze and the warmth of the sun, she was alone.
It was evening in the valley of Ferrenglyn, and the sunset made the red-brown rock walls of the cliffs below Ah’Rhea look as bright as the embers of a dying fire. She was as still as a statue, and her skin—colored so similarly to the rock walls below—was glad for the warmth of the setting sun. An evening like this always brought memories of him, and she needed these last moments of sun to get her through the chill of a lonely night.
• • •
Ah’Rhea had trained with zulis for years to hone her skills. Countless hours of work and introspection had shaped her life until she was worthy of the title “zul master.” It was a goal she had pursued ever since early childhood. It was a singular focus, a yearning in her heart, and she had almost completely ignored the temptations of life in order to achieve that goal. Now, she lived a life of honor but also a life of seclusion. The zul masters could live with one another if they should choose. Yet most lived a life dominated by solitude.
Truly, solitude was something Ah’Rhea liked, something she had always preferred. She felt silence had its own sound, and she regarded it as sweet. Even as a small child, she would sit alone, playing quietly with no one to watch her. She could play that way for hours, to both the relief and dismay of her parents. A child that required so little attention was both a blessing and an oddity. However, there was never any reason for Ah’Rhea’s parents to be concerned. Their child was merely content to be alone. The absence of other people never made Ah’Rhea feel lonely. In fact, only the absence of one particular soul had ever made her feel loneliness, and if it were not for him, loneliness might be an alien concept to her completely.
• • •
The Melakka brothers saw Ah’Rhea coming as they swept sand from the entryway at the Temple of Origin. They stopped sweeping immediately upon seeing her; they knew why she approached, and knew there was no escaping now. Gund dropped his broom, closed his eyes, and prayed. His fat knuckles intertwined with such force they turned white. Varn fell to his knees and begged the woman for forgiveness; he tore at his yellow shirt, shouting for mercy even as Ah’Rhea was still thirty yards away. A woman leaned out of a window three floors up to dispose of wastewater, but after seeing the zul master coming, she shrieked and ducked back inside. Ah’Rhea had always wondered whether it was respect the villagers had for the zul masters of Ferrenglyn or whether they were merely poor creatures living at the foot of a volcano, in constant fear of its eruption. Ah’Rhea had her answer now as she bore down on the temple workers like ash falling from the sky.
I’ve selected a few excerpts from The Hands of Ruin: Book One to introduce one of the series’ prominent characters, Rainart Eil Dragaredd. Rainart is the uncle of fourteen-year-old twins, Zerah and Zigmund Aschburner. After their parents’ deaths, the twins are forced to go live with the uncle they have never met.
• • •
When they finally reached the top of the staircase, Zerah pounded the metal door in front of her. She and her brother were soaked through. Zerah only hoped their luggage had resisted the water better than their clothing. Zigmund looked out over the ocean and then down the side of the cliff. He immediately regretted his decision as the dizziness of vertigo threatened to topple him. He dropped his bags and reached back for his sister, hoping to grab her shoulder for stability. In his wobbly state, he fell back against her harder than he had intended to. The door Zerah had been knocking on opened suddenly, and Zigmund knocked his sister over, both teens stumbling and falling through the door and onto a red rug inside the house.
They wiped the water out of their eyes and looked up to see their uncle’s dark eyes and coal-black moustache towering over them. The man sniffled and walked outside to grab the dropped luggage. He threw it inside the house and then walked back in, slamming the door shut behind him.
“Down the hall and to the left are two guest rooms that will now be your bedrooms,” he said, wiping the rain from his hardened face. “I don’t care which of you takes which one. After you’ve found your rooms and changed your clothes, I’ll expect you downstairs in the dining room for dinner. I’ve already started without you.”
The twins watched the tall man walk away from them and descend a staircase to the right. He moved with a noticeable limp in his right leg but didn’t seem to let it impede his pace.
• • •
“You thought I would have servants,” Rainart finished for her. The girl shrugged sheepishly. “I don’t believe in them,” Rainart said. “People don’t deserve the things they don’t procure for themselves. We obviously can’t be totally self-sufficient creatures, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do what we can.” Rainart put his glass down and placed his large hands on the table, pushing down as he rose out of his seat. He turned to a large cabinet behind his chair and quickly turned back with a bottle of wine. “Would either of you care for a glass? Cabernet, full bodied, with notes of cherry. It’s quite good.”
The teens noticed they each had two glasses in front of them; one was filled with water, the other empty, obviously prepared for this moment. Zerah stared at her uncle with a twinkle in her eye and her mouth hanging open in surprise. Zigmund was not as awestruck or impressed.
“We’re fourteen,” Zigmund said, as if his uncle were a complete idiot.
Rainart placed the bottle down on the table and sat back down. “Well, if that means the answer is no, you’re missing out.”
• • •
Rainart glared at Zigmund and pursed his lips. It would have been a lie for Zigmund to say the man didn’t intimidate him. Everything about Rainart was intimidating. He was large, possibly larger than the twins’ father had been, and he was dark in almost every aspect. He wore a dark goatee and had eyes to match. His shoulder-length black hair had some gray in it and was tied back, revealing a scar along the right side of his neck that looked like a crack in glass. He wore all-black clothing as if he were a smuggler or a thief. Even the fact that Rainart was in his midforties and had a noticeable limp only seemed to add to his mystique.
Rainart surveyed the boy like a predator and then returned to his wine glass. “Your father was a prick,” he said. “I’m not sorry he’s dead. I’m only sorry he was your father and sorry he married my sister.” Rainart gulped the last of his wine, proceeded to pour himself a fresh glass, and huffed.
• • •
Rainart reached under the table and wrenched the girl up by her arm. He quickly ushered her out into the hall and slammed her upright against the wall. He looked into her eyes as if searching for a ghost in the darkness, his own face just inches from Zerah’s.
“What the hell is going on?” Zigmund said as he came down the staircase.
“Shut up,” Rainart barked at the boy, but Zigmund saw his uncle with his hand on his sister’s throat, and he rushed forward.
“Get off her!” Zigmund yelled.
As the boy came forward, Rainart threw his arm out and knocked Zigmund to the ground, keeping Zerah pinned to the wall. He looked back at the girl with a ferocious growl.
“What did the bottle look like?” he snarled. “The one you drank from. What did it look like?”
“I…I…” Zerah stuttered. “It didn’t h-have a label.”
Rainart looked hard into the girl’s eyes, and there he saw what he was searching for, as fleeting as it was. Like a faint shimmer, like smoke being blown by a fan, the emerald gleam was in her eyes. He caught just a glimpse of it before it disappeared.
Stepping back, Rainart released the girl, and she slid to the floor next to her brother. She was sobbing, her cheeks wet with tears. Zigmund regained his faculties and came to his sister’s side, hugging her close to see she was all right. The teens looked up at their uncle like beaten dogs, confused, hurt, and scared beyond reason. Rainart’s eyes darted from side to side, and he scratched his beard feverishly. Suddenly, he dashed back into the wine room. The twins could hear boxes being flung about wildly, bottles clinking against one another. The world was chaos.
Rainart came back into the hallway moments later with the half-empty bottle of wine in his hands. He stomped forward and stopped in front of the teens, heaped on the floor in a pile. Rainart was breathing heavily as he looked down at them, and his eyes were manic.
“Get up, now,” Rainart’s gravelly voice commanded, “and follow me quickly. If you don’t move now, you will die.”
• • •
“As I said earlier,” Rainart began, “there is a great deal about my life and me you will find impossible to take at face value. My only aid in convincing you will be time. Events will occur, you will meet new people, and eventually I will go from the way you see me now—which I’d bet is as a lunatic alcoholic—to the way you will come to know me.
“What you have to understand, without the aid of time, is I am in a very difficult situation. Assume you had to give someone a truth he or she would find unbelievable. Assume that because of this truth, certain measures had to be taken. The question set before you is, Do you inform those who will disbelieve you, and hope their inability to believe doesn’t harm what needs to be done, or do you simply execute the necessary actions without giving any explanation? I’ll be honest: the latter option would be easier for me, but I’m trying to be the good guy here. So I’m giving you the choice. Do you want to hear the truth, knowing you won’t believe it, or do you want me to just do what I have to?”