Albert Camus

Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Unsolved mysteries that will change the world. Or kill them - Lioness of Kell by Paul E. Horsman

Secure in his position as the mighty Prince-warlock’s son, eighteen-year-old Basil is content with his solitary life of study and magic. He has a comfortable set of rooms in his father’s tower, he has his books and scrolls, and he is perfectly happy. Until the Warlockry Council summons him, and their demands sets his whole, safe existence tottering.


Secure in his position as the mighty Prince-warlock’s son, eighteen-year-old Basil is content with his solitary life of study and magic. He has a comfortable set of rooms in his father’s tower, he has his books and scrolls, and he is perfectly happy. Until the Warlockry Council summons him, and their demands sets his whole, safe existence tottering. Scared and unsure, he decides to run, and takes the first ship out of town. On board he meets Yarwan, the handsome midshipman, who awakens feelings he never knew existed.

Maud of the M'Brannoe, at nineteen already a mighty Kell warrioress, is about to graduate as a Lioness, a special duty officer answering to her Queen and no one else. The Prince-warlock asks her to fetch a certain boy from a pirate town, who could be double for his son. On their way back, someone sabotages their airship and the two find themselves marooned in an ill-reputed forest. Together, the young lioness and Jurgis the lookalike run for the coast and a ship home, while finding solace in each other’s arms.

Then the four young people meet, and Basil learns of a spell that might help him. Only the spell’s creator, the infamous Black Warlock, disappeared nearly a century ago. When the four young people decide to go looking for him, they start on a path leading to an old war and unsolved mysteries that will change the world. Or kill them.

A spirited fantasy story of high adventure, sparkling humor and romantic love in an alternate earth setting of tropical islands, pirates, steamships and wyrms, where both magic and early modern technology flourish.


‘Give up!’ Maud roared, climbing halfway up the quarterdeck ladder. She saw the enemy captain beside the wheel, a tall man in a gleaming breastplate and a plumed helmet. He brandished his sword and shouted endless commands into the melee. Maud fixed him with her eye and bellowed, ‘Give up, you can’t win!’
‘We’ll see about that!’ an unnaturally hollow voice answered, and a hooded figure walked to stand beside the captain. ‘Behold my power!’
He waved his hands and a greenish mist wafted over Maud, chilling her to the bone, and making her gag with its stink of death and spilled blood. It formed a sluggish fluid on the main deck, spreading into all corners of the ship, and every fallen combatant of either side touched by it rose and attacked the Jentakans.
Maud’s forces screamed in horror and turned to flee.
‘Hold!’ Maud cried in her loudest voice. ‘By Kallianura I command you, stay and fight!’
Her warriors obeyed, but their courage was gone and they reacted like automatons.
The hooded figure lifted his arms. ‘Despair! You will all join the dead! I’ll ...’
The one word cut through the bedlam, silencing all.
The hooded figure stiffened. ‘Who dares ...?’
A blinding flash turned all eyes to the redheaded boy with the dragon staff, standing at the foot of the smoke stack amidships. ‘I dare you, child!’
‘Basil!’ Jurgis cried. ‘Watch out!’
The Spellwarden raised his arms over the green and his voice was deep, laden with authority. ‘By the power of the Council, your magic is forbidden! Begone, foul spirits!’
A frightful black light sprang from his staff, spread out and like two spills of wine on a tabletop, it met the enemy’s green. There it stopped.
The hooded figure near the wheel laughed derisively. ‘You want to oppose my might, foolish boy?’
To and fro the green and the black rolled, but neither won a foot’s length. Then Basil lifted his left hand, waving a heavy silver branch as long as his arm, and cried something terrible that defied Maud’s hearing. The black light shooting from his staff turned to purple and so did the substance covering half of the deck. A heady smell of lilies wafted over the ship, a drowsy aroma that filled Maud with lethargy. The sweet purple spread, drinking up the green and returning blessed death to every fallen fighter. Finally, it reached the foot of the quarterdeck ladder and started upward.
With a yell of rage, the hooded figure clapped his hands. ‘This isn’t over!’ He jumped high up in the air, and something caught him. It carried him away from the ship, seaward into the blue sky. His last shout of rage and frustration rent the air. ‘I’ll be baaack!’

On his way forward, Jurgis stopped, his need to piss forgotten as a young girl came up the gangway. She was a Kell, nearly as black as Maud, but with her hair made up as a bird’s nest, and dressed in a flowing robe of gauze as thin as cobweb that betrayed every inch of the strong body underneath.
‘You, male!’ she said in a tone that roused hot rage in Jurgis’ breast. ‘I am seeking the Lioness Maud of the M’Brannoe. Tell her I come for her.’
Jurgis closed his mouth with an audible snap. He’d met plenty rough girls in Brisa. Harbor whores, tavern wenches, pickpockets; all coarse and often foul-mouthed women, but none had ever displayed the soul-wrenching arrogance of this barely dressed chit.
The girl frowned at his silence. ‘Are you dumb, male? Go quickly, and warn the lioness I am here. Jump to it.’
‘Well, it’s that you ask it so kindly,’ Jurgis said. ‘And who might you be?’
‘Don’t be impertinent!’ The girl’s eyes flashed. ‘My name is not your concern. Go and fetch the lioness.’
Without another word, Jurgis strode back to their cabin. He slammed the door shut behind him and Maud turned around, her sheathed sword in her hand. ‘Something wrong?’
Jurgis cursed. ‘There’s a girl come on board. A terribly arrogant, snotty girl in the most nekkid robe I ever saw. She wants to see you.’
‘A naked robe?’ Maud frowned. ‘Then she’s a wisewoman. The young ones like to go about in transparent drapes.’ She prodded Jurgis’ breastbone with a finger. ‘Don’t you believe for a moment her dress has anything to do with her being hot and cuddlesome. A wisewoman isn’t a warrioress. We’re generally easygoing; they are the opposite, and this girl’s nakedness is a deadly trap. She’d remove the manhood of any offender even quicker than I would.’
Jurgis growled. ‘That ill-mannered child cuddlesome? I’d rather mount one of those pewbara cats.’
‘Much safer. Was she alone?’
Jurgis thought back and shook his head. ‘No. She had an attendant. A boy. He wasn’t much bigger than I and looked scared as hell.’
Maud sighed. ‘They sent us a difficult one.’
‘Not all your wisewomen are wise?’
‘Forget it. They’re no better than warlocks.’

An hour later she took her leave from the old trader. A sudden thunderstorm erased the starry night sky and the rain drove the last pedestrians inside. Darquine sighed and climbed the stone stairs, now a cascading waterfall.
After a while, she thought she heard footsteps behind her, walking when she walked, and stopping when she did, like an echo. A thundering crash drowned all other noises, and when it had died away, a voice behind her said, ‘Mistress.’
She turned to see a shadowy figure in a cloak, sword in hand. ‘Hinguy wants you gone, mistress,’ a woman’s voice said. ‘So this is it.’ Then the assassin attacked.
In silence, they fought. Darquine was a competent fighter. Not a master, but she knew her way with the rapier. Her opponent however was a master and with her heavier sword, she pushed Darquine step by step back toward a dark side street. After a heavy meal, followed by Lahyong’s tea and cakes, Darquine wasn’t as fast as usual. Her arm began to ache and her desperation grew. To be killed here, so ignominiously, never! ‘Help!’ she shouted. ‘To me!’
But no one answered.
A swift flurry of attacks pushed her ever further toward the dark alley. ‘Help!’ she cried again.
‘No use,’ the assassin said. ‘Nobody will hear you.’
Darquine growled.
‘There!’ It sounded like a child’s voice, high and nervous.
For a moment, Darquine thought she’d imagined it, but then she heard running feet above the sound of the rain.
‘Drop your sword!’ a deep voice commanded.
The assassin cursed and delivered a final cut, her blade biting deep into Darquine’s sword arm.
Darquine dropped her rapier as a searing pain lanced through her body, and sank to her knees. In the far distance she heard a bang. ‘They’re firing at us,’ she mumbled, believing she was back with the boarding party. ‘Boat making water.’ But it was a pool of rain, mingled with her blood. Then, strong hands were ripping open her shirt, exposing the gaping wound in her arm. ‘Hey!’ she protested, and the lights went out.

‘Damnation,’ Maud said, as she tore the shirt into strips. ‘I knew she shouldn’t have gone out alone. Crooks like that Hinguy don’t like being humiliated. Go and search the assassin.’ Jurgis hurried to the hooded figure, lying face-down in the pouring rain.
‘Stop blubbering, child,’ the lioness said to the kitchen boy who had guided them here. ‘Put your fist on this wad. Don’t let it move.’
The child laid his hand on the prop of linen and the bleeding stopped. When Maud had tied enough strips together, she bound them around Darquine’s arm. ‘You can let go now,’ she said. Reluctantly, the boy removed his hand.
Jurgis returned. ‘She carried nothing.’
Maud scooped the unconscious Darquine up from the ground. ‘You bring the assassin.’
Without a word, the thief went to pick up the dead woman. She was light, wiry more than muscled and no heavy weight.

‘Pick up the assassin’s sword, mate,’ he said to the kitchen boy. Big-eyed, the child obeyed, and they hurried back through the wet streets to the Overcaptain’s mansion. 

About the author:
Paul E. Horsman (1952) is a Dutch and International Fantasy Author. Born in the sleepy garden village of Bussum, The Netherlands, he now lives in Roosendaal, a town on the Dutch/Belgian border.

He has been a soldier, salesman, scoutmaster and from 1995 a teacher of Dutch As A Second Language to refugees from all over the globe.

Since 2012, he is a full-time writer of epic light fantasy adventures for both Y.A. and over. His works have been both trade published in The Netherlands, and self-published internationally.
His available titles are:
* The Shadow of the Revenaunt (Rhidauna, Zihaen, Ordelanden) trilogy
* The Shardheld Saga (Shardfall, Runemaster, Shardheld) series
* Lioness of Kell (standalone)

Author's Giveaway
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fee roberts said...

This sounds exciting. I love fantasy stories.

Betty Woodrum said...

Wow! This sounds like a great book! I really enjoyed the excerpt, thank you!

collenga said...

Sounds like an awesome read and I enjoyed the excerpt! Thanks for sharing

Dario Z said...

Great excerpt, thank you for sharing with us!

Angie D said...

Thanks for the intro to a new book!

Natalie said...

I love books about warlocks and magic!

Richard Brandt said...

Sounds like a rousing good adventure, full of intrigue and derring-do and fish out of water!

Stephanie LaPlante said...

I'd totally love to read this. I adore magic and warlocks!

Cat Neko said...

I loved everything about this book! From the cover to the excerpt!!

Rebecca said...

This sounds super exciting!

Danielle Merkle said...

Thank you for the giveaway!

Anonymous said...

thanks for the chance

Dan Denman said...

I like the cover and description of this book. It sounds like a good story!

Thomas Murphy said...

sounds like a great book! Thanks for the giveaway.

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