The Reaper opens with the revelation that the King of Akala is missing, and the new Queen, Leah, is now in power. She meets with President Inaeus Janu of Shaweh to offer a peace treaty that brings their long war to an end. Janu suspects the Queen is a figurehead and focuses on the mysterious Lialthas who seems to have an undue influence over the Queen.
In the meantime, refugees from Akala reach the city-state of Shaweh seeking asylum. The group includes the missing King Darius, his half-sister Moriene with the child Hannah in tow, General Victor Ikharson, and Sefas, once called Meddiah when he was an Empty One. They are shadowed by the black-clad Zacharias who used his magic to help them escape from Lialthas. When the Akalan’s gestures of peace turn out to be empty promises, President Janu and the Akalan refugees are whisked to a secure location as war resumes.
This is the second book in the Fallen Conviction series, and it wasn’t hard to catch up when the asylum-seekers told their story to Janu. This gave me the chance to get up to speed on the plot if you haven’t read the first book.
The interplay between Darius’ group of refugees and the leadership of Shaweh are the primary drivers of the plot. Character-driven stories are a big draw for me, and the author has a knack for showing the complex, often antagonistic relationships between all of these strong-willed characters. My favorite characters in this book were Moriene and Sefas, who were once under Lialthas’ control. Both escaped his grasp and recovered from being “Empty,” yet both still seem to be fighting the battles of the past.
I also enjoyed the high-tension setting. Being locked in a bunker with people you don’t like but are forced to trust is hard enough, but if that trust is tested, things are going to get violent. The situation erodes when Zacharias reveals that there’s something even worse that Lialthas out there, and they may not be able to stop it.
The first thing that struck me about The Reaper was the unusual formatting. At first, I thought it was a typesetting error, but it became clear that the line numbering was meant to give it a scriptural feel. Some of these passages have archaic sentence structure with rhyming words at the end of sentences, but it’s not always consistent and that can be frustrating for those expecting poetic meter. However, the nod to scripture isn’t surprising because gods and religion play a major part in this story.
Don’t assume that because this is written in poetic language that it won’t be exciting. This is a place where magic and technology that we would recognize today are both present, where battles are fought with WMD strikes as well as mind-bending magical attacks. War is gruesome, and the author doesn’t pull his punches when it comes to violence and mayhem. In this world, magic is fueled by blood, fear, and suffering, so whoever wields this power must harm others in order to succeed.
If you’re looking for a novel that offers both a unique style and a reading experience that challenges and defies “the usual” in fantasy, give this book a try.
Pages: 340 | ASIN: B06XRS3SFD
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In the third book of the Atriia series, Kynneth Zeria has declared himself King after the death of his brother Jerrod. He thinks Christa is dead and blames Lor LaRosse for stealing her body. He vows revenge, but in truth, Christa and her two children are alive and living with Hannen in hiding. Dahla is raising the decoy “heir” at Cas Zeria.
Kynneth is beating the drums of war, determined to bring the other Lors under his rule and defeat Lor LaRosse. When he papers the land with propaganda, Christa’s safety is compromised. Hannen orders her to never leave their home. Of course, circumstances intervene, and she is discovered. She may be able to stop a battle, but can she stop an all-out war?
The book offers a calm beginning, following Sam/Hannen and Christine/Christa as they heal and rebuild. Their shared experience on both Earth and Atriia get a lot of play here, with some surprising and heartwarming results. The first two parts of the novel are a great way to get reacquainted with the characters and the unique Atriian dialect—which can be a challenge—so there’s a glossary in the back if you need a refresher. Hannan loves her fiercely, but she struggles with the fact that he is her stepbrother. Even if they are not blood-related, she can’t bring herself to touch him, and if she does give in to her desire, another pregnancy would certainly kill her.
Don’t let the lovely pastoral scenes lull you into a false sense of security. This is the Loper of Zeria and the Foul Fraigen Dropper we’re reading about! Passion, danger, and the madness of King Kynneth are spreading across the land, and Christa—or her legend—is firmly at the center of it all. Powerful men from all sides of the conflict want to use her for their own gain. Some want to kill her, others to use her as bait, or want to lock her away to sate their own lust for power. But Hannen can’t let her go. He stalks her with a single-minded purpose: make her his forever, or die trying.
Christa Clavin again shows her bravery, even as she fights for her life through delirium, rage, and pain. She’s true to her headstrong nature, prone to ignoring advice she doesn’t want to hear while making incredibly risky decisions. Another constant is her sense of responsibility for the people whose very lives depend on her actions.
Fair warning: some of the scenes in this book make the other two books pale in comparison. Some of the horrific situations are pure nightmare fuel; it’s no wonder Christa has so many bad dreams.
The people of Attria think Christa Clavin, the Loper of Zeria is legend come to life, and indeed, her fate may be led by the hand of the divine Sola herself. It’s not hard to imagine her becoming a beloved hero of legend. I think fans of this series will certainly feel the same.
Pages: 569 | ASIN: B01KEMXROY
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The Hunters Sign is a genre-crossing novel with elements of paranormal and dark urban fantasy as well. Did you start writing with this in mind, or did this happen organically as you were writing?
There were a few differences between the summary and the final draft, but the overall story remained intact. I always try to make my fantasy books atypical, so I avoid as many fantasy tropes as I can and I tend to cross genres to make a story that’s unpredictable and interesting.
The supporting characters in this novel, I felt, were intriguing and well developed. Who was your favorite character to write for?
I’d say the main character, Adam, was the most fun to write for. He’s smart and also a smartalec, the kind of person I wish I had the nerve to be. I liked developing his relationship with Amy for I attempted to give them real chemistry. I’ve read a few books where couples come together out of physical attraction and having fun at events but don’t real talk about things they have in common. I guess the author is unwilling to have their couples touch on issues that a reader might take offense at, or perhaps a relationship is only meant to serve the story and nothing more.
I was once afraid that Ricky, the secondary character, would practically take the story away from Adam, but as the book went on that didn’t happen. He’s only meant to serve for expository purposes, to observe things for the sake of the reader that Adam can’t observe (or else the story would be over much more quickly). Still, it was interesting to write about a character who’s not exactly a bad guy but has a different moral code than Adam. He really is a scamp!
Magic is used throughout the book and I felt it was deftly handled. How did you maintain balance to make sure the magic that was used was believable?
I believe that in any fantasy story with magic-wielding characters, strict limits should be imposed on the magic. I did this by saying there are three different “schools” that mages can adopt, and while they can use magic from various schools, they can only be a master in one. I also said mages can be measured through “levels” that determine their adeptness, and I made it hard for one to become a mage by inventing “phosphorescent stones” which give people magic abilities but can be dangerous when handled incorrectly (an incentive for someone to not become a mage). If an author makes magic seem too easy, it may make readers raise questions such as “If this guy can do this useful spell at this time, then why can’t he do it at this other time?”
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be published?
My next book is titled “The Legend of the Three Roses,” which I’m very excited for! It takes place in a kind of medieval setting, and it starts out as a crime story only to evolve into a war story. The book reflects my thoughts on certain matters of spirituality, so characters touch on sensitive themes. It’s the most daring story I’ve ever written–graphic yet fun as well. I plan to release it sometime in June of 2017.
“Four years after the events of Part 1, 21-year-old Adam Taylor has moved to a new city, Almin. Here he plans to make a new start of things by attending a new school, learn new magic spells, and make new friends. And although love is not on his mind, he ends up falling for Amy Graine, the beautiful daughter of the CFO of Entercor Contracting. They are of two different disciplines of magic–him being a black mage and her being a white mage–yet they overcome their differences and begin a whirlwind romance that softens the scrappy young man’s heart. But Amy holds a secret that will test Adam’s conscience, and so he will be forced to side with either his girlfriend or those who wish to bring down Entercor.
Meanwhile, one of Adam’s school roommates, Ricky Grater, meets a mysterious man named Cameron Moss. Cameron is a fellow mage capable of powerful magic spells, and despite Cameron’s impulsiveness and abrasive behavior, Ricky looks up to him as a friend and mentor. The two men go through fast times gambling at the local casino, picking up lovely women, and enhancing their magic abilities. Ricky believes this is the start of a long and fruitful friendship that will further his magic career and keep the good times going. But behind his warm smile and easygoing attitude, Cameron has a hidden agenda, one that will ensnare Ricky in a web of lies, murder, and forbidden magic.”
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An ancient order. A young man with no knowledge of his past. Three friends who have trained and grown up together since infancy. This has all the trappings of a great fantasy-adventure tale with a back story that can rival even the most intricate video game. Yolanda Ramos has definitely done her homework with her epic tale The Seventh Sentinel. We have our main character, Cristiano, as he is raised in an orphanage by his mentor Julio Sierra: the man who has lost everything but is given the opportunity to retain meaning in his life. A boy with no apparent past. The boy becomes a man and is rigorously trained and skilled in various forms of combat and intrigue, but for what purpose? Readers will take an incredible journey in our modern day where the purpose of angels is still alive and well as they commune between man and God.
Even if you don’t particularly enjoy stories based on biblical characters or events, The Seventh Sentinel has a knack for focusing more on the actual adventure portion of the tale. Yes, there are angels. Yes, there are the Seraphim who are said to serve God alone. These angels have a purpose, and a personality, thanks to Ramos’ hard work. The descriptions in this tale are elegant and vivid. It seems as though it is based on actual events. In our modern world many feel as though God and His angels have abandoned us. Perhaps they have no need of us. Ramos is able to bring that slightly mythical sounding ideal into our century. These angels have a plan for Cristiano: he has a purpose. He will see it through.
Like most protagonists in this situation, Cristiano is an apparent orphan who was raised under the watchful eye of a male mentor. Julio cares for and teaches Cristiano as best as he can. Our protagonist is plagued with visions for a purpose he does not yet understand. And like most protagonists in this situation right as the truth is about to be revealed there is an attack and his mentor falls.
This is a fantastic book that deftly uses inspiration from religious ideals. Some may be uncomfortable because this book makes assumptions about what certain celestial beings can do while others may feel as though religion is a separate fairy tale. In the end, the way Ramos wove her tale together is entertaining in any case.
A story where a young man learns his purpose for our world is usually a delight to read. Yolanda Ramos does her research and attempts to be as faithful to the real monuments and angelic characters as she can be in The Seventh Sentinel. This book ends in such a way that if ever there were more, that would make sense. However it also ends in a fashion where questions are answered and another book is not entirely necessary. Readers will enjoy the journey Cristiano and his fellows take as they epically travel the world on a quest to discover whether or not the past truly matters.
Pages: 286 | ASIN: B00JVR7YPW
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The story of Nickerbacher takes you on a journey of mystical beings and starry-eyed dreams. It’s an adventure with a dragon and a prince and princess. Nickerbacher is a dragon destined for a life of working as a protector of princesses- a job that was proudly held by his father and his father before that. However, Nickerbacher dreams of something more and wants to perform on The Late Knight Show where he can show off his comedic value. With the help of a leprechaun, a prince and other magical beings, can Nickerbacher change the hearts and minds of all La La Land?
Nickerbacher, written by Terry John Barto, is a fun-loving children’s novel based on the story of a dragon and his friends. Nickerbacher dreams of being something more than a dragon protector of princesses and sets his sights on becoming a comedian. There is an underlying message that children will love as it promotes following your dreams even if other people may not believe that you can achieve them.
Throughout the story, the fantasy characters participate in modern-day activities, like taking selfies with mystical beings or trying to fit their feet into the prints of famous celebrities. This provides a modern twist to a classically styled fairy tale that combine beautifully in this incredible city. My favorite character is Miss Phoenix, a receptionist who rises from the ashes to greet the unlikely trio. She is dedicated to her work but has a heart of gold which sings true to the end.
Pictures are included throughout the novel which brings to life the extraordinary fun loving characters. My favorite image is one that includes ghosts and goblins at the Fairywood Forever Cemetery, royal chariots at LAX and the Medieval Tar Pits. The images are a mix of castles with high rise style buildings that replicate a similar style of what I would imagine LA would look like if it had been sprinkled with a touch of fairy dust. I love how the imagery complements the text and helps with engaging the reader in expanding their imagination.
This story will help children to learn the importance of friendship and believing in yourself. Nickerbacher also touches on issues such as family, societal expectations and breaking through the barriers of life in a fun and engaging story line. Children will relate to parts of the story and see parts of themselves in each of the magical beings. I love the relationship between Princess Gwendolyn and Nickerbacher and how they break the stereotypes of the typical dragon and Princess friendship.
I would recommend Nickerbacher to any school-aged children who wants to be lost in the magic of La La Land. This book would be perfect as a bedtime story to be read aloud as Terry John’s Barto’s wonderful way with words will delight all children and adults alike.
Pages: 34 | ASIN: B00SKKX2AW
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The Hunter’s Rede by F.T. McKinstry is a tale of adventure, mystery and deceit. Lorth is a hunter/assassin who obeys the Hunter’s Rede; a series of rules the dictate the isolated lifestyle of an assassin. He has never questioned their necessity; until now.
He is summoned home by the mysterious Mistress of Eusiron and arrives to find the region invaded by the Faerin army. Even more alarming; a member of the Keepers of the Eye has been assassinated.
Lorth must use his wits, magic, and sheer determination to escape being framed for the murder, find the perpetrator and defeat the invaders. All the while, he must juggle the Hunter’s Rede – a selfish code – with morality, loyalty, and love.
This is an enjoyable read for those who like suspenseful fantasy. The world building is strong and specific; a requirement in fantasy stories. The battling kingdoms, the Hunter’s Rede, and the Keepers of the Eye are all thoroughly referenced and explored by the author. However, the origins of the Rede are vague and difficult to visualize.
The characterization is fuzzy at first but the reader eventually becomes well acquainted with many of the characters who decorate the story. Lorth, in particular, grows on the reader overtime. Some of the most enjoyable characters are placed in the background and only dip into the story occasionally – such as the amiable Captain Ivy.
The plot is entertaining and ornamented with twists and tension. The story focuses on its characters and conflicts but also has a strong theme revolving around morality and sacrifice, which finds its way into the story. You could say that The Hunter’s Rede is inspired by the video game series Assassins Creed; as I felt that it dealt with similar concepts, story models and parallel titles. But I enjoyed the variances that allowed The Hunter’s Rede to have uniqueness.
While the story has some thrilling action scenes, at times they were either too cumbersome or unclear. Overall the story was clever and entertaining except for the romance moments which come off as less inspired. The Hunter’s Rede is one proofread away from being a fascinating and exciting read.
Pages: 303 | ASIN: B01LZS174X
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Master Athina comes to a whirlwind close. Through four books we have followed the journey of Jim, construction manager from our world into the body of Athina; lady of another world. What was one thing that you wanted to make sure you accomplished in the final chapter?
To illustrate no matter the sex or size of a person, we all have our strengths and can shine if allowed.
Athina has slowly absorbed Jim and now they seem to be one person. The transition over the series has been subtle and fantastic. Did you map out this transition or did this happen organically as you went into each book?
I knew I wanted something to surprise my readers, so I was looking for the opportunity as I was writing. So you could say a bit of both however, I didn’t come by the full details of her life’s events until I’d finished Book 2, Lady Athina.
Athina obtains the title of Master Builder. Why do you think this was an important milestone for her character?
By the end of book 4, Athina is inaugurated into the league of Wizards. All through the books I hinted very subtly she had Magical abilities. But not until book 4 did I let them come out so everyone could see. As for Master Builder, that title will come in time.
How does it feel to have your series come to a close?
Breathtaking. My writing style is finishing a story in one book. Working this story into 4 books was a large task for me. Keeping track of dates, places, names and personalities was a real job as it takes me a full year to write a story. In the end though I’m real glad I took the venture.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will that be available?
My next book is a world apart from this one. An arctic wolf by the name of Braxton Snow is my main character. His girlfriend Joann is a jackrabbit. Braxton is a private investigator by trade. The title of this up coming work is, Braxton Snow P.I. With any luck it’ll be out late in the year of 2017.
Athina and Wendell have returned to the house of Burgundy, ready to rebuild and protect the coast; they must not allow landfall to Tallar White’s army from across the sea. But Wendell’s brother betrays them both. Kidnapped, thrown into Tallar’s dungeon, Athina must use all her willpower and wits to survive, escape, and warn her people about the invading force headed to her homeland to overthrow the king. With the assistance of merpeople long believed to be legend, Athina and her allies have a narrow chance to race Tallar to the throne.
More important than the kingdom to Athina, she cannot lose her children to the scheming usurper. Desperate to know how they fare, she discovers latent magic that could turn the tide of battle. If only the men around her would believe the magic is real and recognize her as a Master.
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Mother Athina continues to follow Jim, a modern man’s soul trapped in the body of a medieval 16 year old girl, as he struggles with accepting his new place in life. How has Jim’s transformation changed in this novel compared to the two previous?
By this book, Jim has discovered he was always meant to be born a woman. Back in modern times, the female part of him was beat out of him by his father. With his discovery of his true nature, Jim becomes Athina. With her acceptance a whole new world opens up to her. Loving a man is a major step. Birthing children another and what they mean to her. With all these new adventures, Athina still must struggle with medieval culture and how they treat women.
The book opens with Athina in prison and her father trying various unscrupulous methods to get her out. What was the inspiration for the relationship Athina and her father have and how do you see it developing?
Chamberland is a normal thinking male in his culture. Back in those times high ranking women were used to mend grievances, even unto being married off to kings or prince’s to prevent war between two townships, provenances, counties, even kingdoms. This is the mentality I choose for her father. Still, I sought to show he loves his Daughter. A task made difficult to show as Athina always saw him as a big bully, like his modern day father. As for their relationship, a mutual respect will aid them to accept one another.
In the first book Jim is Athina, but now it seems Athina is taking over. What is the transition point for you? Will Athina always be Jim? Can their souls ever be separated?
In point of fact, Jim is Athina. This development happened in the course of writing the books. I wanted to present a shock factor, something new in each book that was unexpected. The final chain of events was this. Athina dies in childbirth only to be reborn in modern times as a man. Here, at the age of 41 Jim dies. Yet in Athina’s home world, only seconds have passed after her soul left her body before a master wizard reaches out for Athina’s soul and pulls her back into her body. But as Athina had been born and died in another reality, she has no memory of her first life in this time zone and place.
What is the next book in the series, where does the story go, and when will that be available?
Master Athina is the book title. In this last book, Athina’s trails come to a conclusion, at least for the time being. Athina must face capture by her worst enemy. She must work to save herself, her children, her husband, even the very land she calls home. She has many decisions, but in each case she discovers she truly only has one bad choice to choose. Her final conflict ultimately opens new doors for her future.
Former construction company owner Jim Sanders left behind the modern life he knew when a master wizard hooked his freshly-dead soul out of the ether and placed it in the body of a 16-yr-old girl, Lady Athina Burgundy. She now stands accused of treason.
Lady Athina faces her accusers with trademark honesty, bringing into question Lord Tallar White’s claim to Athina’s former home and its important seaports. For the good of the kingdom, her father and Lord Wendell’s father must wrest control of the border country from Lord White, who is fomenting a new civil war. Forced by politics to marry a son of the Blue Lands, she makes her choice and becomes Lady Athina Blue. If only being the lady of the house didn’t require jewels, tiaras and asset-baring fashions!
When Master Wizard Giddion returns with another mind-blowing revelation about her soul, Athina begins to see the larger tapestry. Assassins hide behind every post, putting her new husband, Lord Wendell and her other loved ones in danger. She now straddles an unprecedented level of power and influence over four major houses at once. She would give it all away to simply accept Wendell’s love and become Mother Athina.
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Jim Sanders left behind modern life when a wizard hooked his freshly-dead soul out of the ether and placed it in the body of a 16 year old girl from the middle ages. I find the setup of Lady Athina to be entertaining. How did this idea start and develop as you wrote?
In truth, it just sort of came to me. I knew I wanted to move Jim into a fantasy world, but simply doing that seemed anti climactic. I pondered for a bit and thought, what would happen if a macho guy suddenly ended up in a small girls body. With this new twist, I rewrote Jim to be a large guy, then gave some hint of his life before I moved him to the new world.
Jim Sanders is an intriguing character with an interesting backstory. What was the inspiration for the main character’s traits and dialogue?
I’ve worked around construction people for a few years and drew up what I considered most wanted to be, a strong, tall and confident man. However, such would be boring without some tragedy to mold his personality. Thus as the story progressed, I sought out meaningful snippets of his life to make him more viable and believable.
Are you a fan of the Sword & Sorcery genre? What books do you think most influenced your work?
Right out of high school, some friends introduced me to fantasy roll playing. We mainly dealt with magic and swords. Elves, dwarves and the like were always on hand. So yes I’m a big fan of Swords, magic and the medieval era. Reading fantasy books also caught my eye, but real history books of the dark ages put everything into perspective for me.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be published?
My next book is Mother Athina. This is the 3rd book in a series of 4 books. Currently Mother Athina is on the market at Amazon.com.
Former construction company owner Jim Sanders left behind the modern life he knew when a master wizard hooked his freshly-dead soul out of the ether and placed it in the body of a 16-yr-old girl, Lady Athina Green. Newly widowed and displaced, Jim must dodge advances from Athina’s old boyfriend, outmaneuver assassins, and avoid Athina’s father marrying her off to anyone else for political gain. Jim borrows knives and trouble when he jumps the fence and disappears into the night to save himself from a medieval world controlled by men. While on the run, memories of emotional abuse at his own father’s hands manifest in Jim’s nightmares, culminating in an identity crisis that shakes him to his core. With the help of Athina’s few allies, Jim faces his largest trial yet as a woman. It’s time to pull on his big girl panties and face an uncertain future.
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Lord Athina is an interesting story about Jim, who’s killed in an accident, gets his soul sent back in time and placed into a sixteen year old girl. How did you come about this original idea and how did that develop into a story?
My story development path starts with a blank computer screen. I think up a situation and start writing. A lot of times I’ll write up to 5,000 words before a true idea comes to mind, if at all. If what I have written catches my attention I let my imagination run for while. By this time I’ve an idea concerning the main character. Who he or she is. In this case I wrote a bit about Jim and his hard luck life. It then came to mind what if he died and was reborn, which finally changed to being placed in the body of a girl. Most people have seen Freaky Friday, or a similar version. Once this came across as a possibility, I started looking into a starting point and began writing off the top of my head. That’s my style of writing. Off the cuff. Once I transferred Jim into Athina, the situations presented themselves.
Jim finds himself in the body of a sixteen year old girl. How did you go about writing what it would be like to be stuck in a girls body?
I’ve read many history books which gave me some insights into the daily lives of women back in olden times. I also asked my girlfriend and my editor of what I’d have to learn to take care of a girls body and what they go through to keep clean and healthy.
I found that the magic used in the novel was efficiently used to great effect. How did you approach using magic in your story so that it’s believable?
I’ve read a lot of fantasy stories and enjoyed them. A lot I noted used quite a bit of magic. As this is my first series, I wanted to keep magic at a minimum so I could pay more attention to the characters then what spell was used and how powerful can I make them. In addition, by limiting the spells, I didn’t have to come up with ways to try and counter the spells, their by making the effects believe able.
What is the next book that you are writing and when will that be published?
My next book is Lady Athina. This is the second book in a 4 part series. Lady Athina is currently on the market at Amazon.com.
Jim Sanders is the first-born son of a city planning official in New York. Brought up in the midst of street gangs, construction, and the greed of politicians, Jim learns to keep physically fit and watch his back. Tired of the stress, he moves to Los Angeles to build his own construction company. But the hard knocks of life seek him out even here—Jim becomes the center of several vicious wrongful death lawsuits, caused by third-rate materials he never ordered. Hospitalized for a mental breakdown, and slapped with a divorce, Jim is exonerated only after he’s lost everything.
Released from the hospital, Jim reapplies himself in an attempt to overturn his failing company, but then he’s killed in an auto accident. Relieved from his troubled life, his soul ascends skyward. But fate is not done with Jim, for instead of heaven, Jim awakes back on Earth in the past, sealed in the body of a sixteen-year-old girl named Athina, mother to a newborn baby and heir to a citadel. Due to a healing spell gone awry, Jim is now breasts-deep in a firestorm of medieval social plots. Like a newborn babe in this unfamiliar world, Jim must now cope with primitive political realities from the opposite gender with only his wits and a devoted nursemaid who was deceived of her true charge’s death.
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