"What character development, I never seen an author do as well as Katharine. The story was outstanding and it kept you turning the pages and be prepared to lose sleep. There are many twist and turns and several surprises.. [...] a Must read. You will love it" Danny, Goodreads
Issaura's Claws (#1)
“According to legend, when the world was young, the goddess Issaura appeared among men. Those who treated her with kindness received the gift of the gods—the ability to transform into an animal form. This was a great honor but one that separated this race from other humans. Before Issaura departed the mortal realm, she promised to return if her people were ever at the point of destruction.
“Now a threat is rising from a land across the mists of the ocean, a threat that will push this race to the brink of extinction. Responding to the call to war, seventeen-year-old Lluava heads off to find her destiny, one that will carve her name in history.”
The Kingdom of Elysia consists of two races: the dominant race of humans and the native race of Theriomorphs who can shift into animal form. Although law dictates equal treatment, they neither like nor trust each other. Now brutal and ruthless Raiders are approaching; there is only one chance to defeat them. An army must be raised and trained. An army where each human will be paired with a Theriomorph partner. An army that must fight as one to defeat their common enemy.
Women are not warriors. However, Lluava is not like other women – human or Theriomorph. Her animal form is a magnificent beast whose power and fury she must learn to control. Although Lluava endures intense physical training and strives to overcome the doubts of the male recruits, she faces an unexpected adversary in the commanding general who seeks to break both her spirit and her body.
At the paring ceremony, Lluava is humbled when presented with a unique and ancient weapon. Yet she becomes distraught and angry when her human partner is revealed. If they fail to trust each other, the consequences will be devastating. Death and destruction are on the horizon and time is running out.
The Incarn Saga is a young adult fantasy series inspired by ancient myths, filled with fast-paced action and adventure, and enriched by an understanding of animal behavior that defines the shape-shifting Theriomorphs.
‘…Outside, she moved stealthily through the camp to the general’s barracks. The main door was unlocked. She went directly to Kentril’s office. As she had expected, it was dark and no one was there. However, just as she was about to call his name, she heard voices from the conference room at the end of the hall.
The door of the conference room was ajar and Lluava peeked inside. General Kentril and Major Ojewa sat on the far side of a large, rectangular table. Lluava recognized other officers; the frazzled nurse was there, too, as well as others whom she did not know. One man, of average build, his head completely shaved, faced away from her. When he turned, she saw a small nose in a large face, and a scar that began at his left ear and traveled downward, disappearing into his shirt collar.
Deeply involved with the conversation, the man suddenly broke in. “Explain your reasoning!” he demanded. As he spoke, Lluava blinked several times to make sure what she saw was real. All his teeth were pointed, as if he had filed them. The sight of the sharp, serrated peaks grinding on each other gave her an unsettled feeling.
“That is preposterous!” trumpeted an enormous man who sat to the left of Razor-Tooth. The huge person’s loud, booming voice echoed off the walls. More astonishingly, his voice barely began to convey the massive size of the man. Even seated, Lluava could tell he was close to seven feet tall, if not taller. His wide shoulders framed an overdeveloped, muscular body barely contained by his shirt. He had to wedge himself between the arms of the chair.
The mammoth man bellowed, “How can you think of such a thing? We have no reason to believe that! It was just a horrible accident!
Major Ojewa’s response was cool. “When we examined the bridge, we found that the ropes had been severed three-fourths of the way through. The cuts were clean, which indicates that they were caused not by natural wear but by some sharp object, like a knife or a sword.”
“What of the girl? You said that she was extremely quick to react. Could she have had something to do with the collapse? It could explain how she seemed to hold back and then move so quickly afterward.”
General Kentril spoke up at this remark. “Lluava is one of the best recruits we have. She is ambitious and curious to a fault, but I will defend her with all that I am. She had nothing to do with that incident. I called you here to discuss the possibility that the bridge was tampered with by a force outside this facility.”
“What are you insinuating, Kentril?” the burly giant gruffly asked.
“Raiders.” A powerful voice spoke from the other side of the door…’
"According to legend, when the world was young, two gods of war — one male, one female — were destined for each other. Yet Ullr, forever unfaithful, lost the love of Issaura, his true match, and was forsworn. His violent anger and bitter rage grew and intensified, poisoning all creation and humanity.
Now that the Raiders’ long ships have faded from sight, the kingdom of Elysia is beginning to recover from the summer’s war with the brutal invaders from across the sea. Yet darker forces have taken root, forces that can alter the future of the land and its people in unthinkable ways. Seventeen-year-old Lluava must discover the means to prevent her world from collapsing. But in doing so, will she succumb to that darkness?"
In the failing light, Lluava sat her weary body down on one of the cut logs that served as benches around the ever-blazing cooking fires. She ached from an exhaustion that was more than physical. In her hand, she held a steaming bowl of clumping porridge, or maybe repurposed hash. Although its taste was barely better than its looks, this mysterious gruel was the only thing the town could provide to feed the army for their extended stay. Lluava had grown accustomed to its bland taste and grainy texture. It might not be ideal, but it kept everyone’s strength up when they needed it.
“May I sit next to you?” Varren’s formal upbringing emerged even when there was no need.
Nodding, Lluava shoveled down the sludge. Eating quickly was her trick to keep the so-called food from sticking to the back of her throat. In contrast, Varren sat down, whispered a prayer of thanks, and began to eat. They remained silent until Varren had finished.
Wiping his mouth, he said, “I would like to head back to the capital tomorrow. Since you are my military partner—no, that is not the reason.” Varren seemed flustered. He was not one to fumble with his choice of words. Eloquence had always come naturally to him, so why could he not state a clear thought now?
“Yes?” inquired Lluava, hoping to coax him to continue.
Varren stood up in his most formal manner and asked, “Lluava, would you come with me to the royal palace? I want to introduce you to Grandfather and the High Council and, well…I would like you to be with me when I return to court.”
Lluava understood his fear of what he was about to do, for altering an age-old law was all but unheard of. Nevertheless, excitement fluttered inside her like a newly fledged bird. Varren wanted her near him. This was his way of admitting how much he needed her at his side. This day had truly brought wonderful news.
She was about to say yes when a new thought crossed her mind. “How long do you expect to be at court?”
“I do not know. Why do you ask?”
Lluava fingered the carefully folded letter in her pants pocket. “Well, I had hoped to visit home. I haven’t seen my family since the draft.”
Thoughtfully, Varren said, “I will not force you to come. You can leave at any time. However, I would like you to be with me when—”
Lluava interrupted. “Don’t worry. I’ll be standing by your side from now until eternity.” She grinned at her pathetic attempt at poeticism.
“That is good. That is great!” Varren could not hide his relief. “Well, I will say good night to you now. Tomorrow will be a new and exciting day.”
With that, Varren gently took Lluava’s hand and kissed it, which sent a tingling sensation up her arm. As he left, Lluava thought, Oh, what am I getting myself into?
Next morning, Lluava ran to the shanty that served as Ymen’s dispatch headquarters. Since a large portion of the Southern army was stationed here, the king’s messengers came to the town every two weeks. Lluava had to hurry so as not to miss the chance to send off her own letter. She had forgotten to do this errand the day before, and with her departure imminent this was the only chance she would have before she left.
Attempting to catch her breath, Lluava retrieved the letter from her pocket. It was surprisingly unwrinkled. Perhaps the gods were watching over her. She handed the parchment to the small man loading full satchels onto his horse. Annoyed at the last-minute arrival, he began to lecture Lluava on the importance of punctuality. She in turn quietly reprimanded herself for her forgetfulness. Satisfied with his thorough scolding, the letter carrier asked Lluava in a disinterested manner, “Are you human or Theriomorph?”
This simplest of questions caught Lluava off guard. An inner heat coursed through her body as she growled out the formal reply.
“I am Lluava Kargen, daughter of Haliden Kargen, and I am Theriomorph.”
Crocotta's Hackles (#3)
“According to legend, when the world was young, Crocotta, Queen of the Gods, discovered her mate’s faithlessness. She vowed to prevent future threats to all matrimonial pacts henceforward, but for her it was too late. The child born from the illicit coupling was a warrior goddess—one whom Crocotta would seek to destroy throughout eternity.
Now that the Raiders’ elite army is threatening the kingdom of Elysia’s northern borders, seventeen-year-old Lluava must leave the familiarity and safety of her native land to venture into the wilderness. Her mission is to discover others like her who will come to Elysia’s aid; her hope is to unravel the secrets behind what it means to be Incarn. But what she finds could destroy everything.”
Lluava’s story continues in Crocotta’s Hackles, the third book in The Incarn Saga's award-winning new-adult series.
Lluava tried to prepare for the task set before her: to kill an innocent man. Could she do it? She had killed before, men with families and friends in their homeland across the ocean. Yet these men were enemies who had come to Elysia to pillage, destroy, and conquer. She had been forced to kill them. Their lives had had to be lost.
But what of Ammit? He was only fulfilling a duty of ceremonial law. He was innocent. Could she kill him?
What did she know about him? Not much more than she’d known about any other man she had slain. And Ammit, like the Raiders, would not hesitate to take her life. If she reacted instinctively and defended herself, she could justify a fatal injury based on pure self-preservation.
What of the Tucala? This ceremony clearly had originated in ancient times. How could this “only one survivor” regulation be considered fair? She was innocent, so the gods must make sure she wins. But then, what of her opponent? He was innocent, too. He was only respecting the rules of this bloodthirsty event. Wouldn’t the gods, if they did exist, take pity on him as well? If there could be only one winner, how would either her death or Ammit’s prove anything?
Lluava’s head began to spin. None of this seemed ethical. None of this made sense. Was she truly to die in a barbaric battle of strength? She was overwhelmed by different emotions: anger, frustration, confusion, fear, regret. Why had she come to this place? Why had she left the kingdom’s boundaries? The old tales warned that none returned once they voyaged beyond Elysia; Lluava was beginning to understand why.
Torchlight came and went as people sporadically visited Zeek’s body. His friends and family continued to trickle in through the night.
Early in the morning, one of the visitors walked down the hall toward Lluava’s cell. She prepared herself for an explosive encounter with a grieving family member. Instead, Apex’s bristly face appeared in her open doorway.
“I figured they were keeping you here,” he said ruefully.
“I didn’t do it, you know,” Lluava defended herself.
“They are going to make me fight for my life today.”
The flickering flame from the torch in his hand cast eerie shadows on the huntsman’s face.
“We need to leave this place,” Lluava said in a whisper. “No good has come since our arrival. There is nothing here for us.”
Motioning Apex to step into her cubicle, Lluava cautiously stated, “We should make a run for it. Tonight.”
“And what, exactly, is your plan?”
Lluava stared almost horrified at the man before her. “We make a break for the jungle, in the dark. Nobody would see us. Then we… then…”
“Then what?” questioned Apex. His voice was methodical. “We have no weapons. No way of knowing where the opening to this valley lies. The jungle is filled with booby traps, or have you forgotten? They would capture us before we even had a chance.”
“I might die tomorrow. I can’t do that. Not here.” Lluava realized she was trembling. At least in the dark, maybe he wouldn’t notice.
Apex reached out and stroked Lluava’s pale hair. “You won’t.”
Lluava wanted to ask why he seemed so sure, but she didn’t want his reassurance to end, charade though it might be. Afraid to speak, she kept silent, and Apex left her cubicle. As the light of his torch dimmed, so, too, did her hope.
About the author:
Katharine Wibell’s lifelong interest in mythology includes epic poetry like the Odyssey, Ramayana, Beowulf, and the Nibelungenlied. In addition, she is interested in all things animal whether training dogs, apprenticing at a children’s zoo, or caring for injured animals as a licensed wildlife rehabilitator. After receiving degrees from Mercer University in both art and psychology with an emphasis in animal behavior, Wibell moved to New Orleans with her dog, Alli, to kick start her career as an artist and a writer. Her first literary works blend her knowledge of the animal world with the world of high fantasy.