Title: THE SHADOW WATCH
Author: S.A. Klopfenstein
Pub. Date: May 15, 2018
Publisher: Guardian Grey Publishing
Formats: Paperback, eBook
For centuries, the Oshan Empire has ruled the New World with terror and blood. The Watchers have been eradicated, and their sorcery is but a whispered myth. But the heart of magic beats on, and as it surges back to life, three young people will determine the fate of the world…
Tori Burodai, a strong-willed slave girl. Her magic could ignite a revolution, but only if she resists the ruler who wants to use her powers to restore the empire to its former glory.
Darien Redvar, the idealistic soldier she loves. His rage leads him down a dark path to power that could turn him against the one person he cares for.
Kale Andovier, a lordling rebel with a torturous past. His quest for a weapon of dark sorcery will thrust him into a twisted game of power that could change the world forever.
Excerpt from The Shadow Watch:
The mother could feel the creatures in her mind, searching, probing, scouring, desperate to unveil what remained hidden to them in the city of tents. She gripped her daughter’s hand tight, so tight she could feel the throbbing of her daughter’s heartbeat in her palm. Little Astoria did not know why her mother had snuck her out of their tent in the middle of the night. She did not know what creatures might lurk behind the skin of any one of their tribesmen, waiting to crawl out and devour her.
Together, mother and daughter crept through the city, weaving from shadow to shadow. The mother prayed the creatures would not find her until her daughter was safe, but the sun goddess of the Yan Avii had turned her face from the world.
Astoria yawned, then covered her mouth with her tiny hand.
She’s seen only seven summers, thought the mother. It pained her to think of what she had to do, but she could not keep her daughter a secret any longer. It was not safe.
Astoria did not know what hunted her because she did not yet understand the New World. She did not know of the ancient vows that had been sworn by ancient rulers, nor of the vile creatures that had been molded by them, molded for only one purpose—to eradicate Astoria’s kind from the world.
Fear wrapped its fingers around the mother’s throat, and she held still. She could sense the creatures again. They were searching all across the makeshift City Upon the Steppe. They had sensed magic, and they would not leave until their hunger was sated.
It did not matter that the Yan Avii were no longer part of the empire. The creatures did not abide by treaties or boundary lines. They knew only the purpose for which they had been bred. Astoria had used magic, and they had come for her.
A tenuous cloud slithered across the sky, shrouding the twin moons of the New World. A blessing from the gods. The mother imagined the Sisters were whispering to her as they cast the world in shadow. She could almost hear their voices on the wind. Be brave, good mother, be swift.
The mother seized the moment and hurried down the dark lanes through the labyrinth of tents, tugging her daughter along behind her.
Astoria shivered. Her tiny hand trembled in her mother’s palm. Astoria wore only a cotton shift, which barely reached her knees and left too much of her bony shoulders bare. The mother wished she had thought to grab her daughter’s cloak, but there had been no time.
Such a lovely thing, her daughter’s magic, an innocent thing. Astoria had used her gift for good. She had saved the boy. But the creatures came for her, all the same.
The cloud passed, and the Sisters rejoined their thousand daughters in their nightlong dance across the sky, bathing the tent city in iridescent light. But the momentary darkness had been enough.
At the edge of the Yan Avii tent city, the mother reached the tent she sought. The flap fell behind them, shielding them from watching eyes, though the creatures relied upon another sense. The mother felt their minds again, but she would not have to ward them off much longer. Her daughter was nearly safe.
The merchant was so burly he seemed to fill the tent. His smile was crooked like his heart, the mother had no doubt. Her own heart shuddered at what she had to do.
Sweat beaded from the merchant’s bald, fat head. Piercings lined the left side of his face from jaw to earlobe, threaded by a golden chain. His robes were blue like the glaciers of the mother’s homeland, woven of fine silk, and she knew he had not attained that wealth from dealing in spices.
“Who’s he?” Astoria muttered sleepily.
The merchant grinned, but he let the mother explain.
“He’s… an old friend, my dear. He is going to look after you. You must go with him.”
Realization dawned on Astoria’s face. Her eyes widened. Her lips trembled. “Go with him where?”
“Y-you’re coming too?”
The mother shook her head. The merchant’s chest heaved with silent laughter. How many times has he witnessed such treachery, to find the betrayal of a mother so amusing?
“W-where are you going?” said Astoria.
The mother choked back a sob. She knelt and pulled her daughter close, and Astoria’s tears soaked through her tunic. “Far away, my love,” said the mother.
“I w-want to go with you.”
“You can’t. My friend will keep you safe. You must be strong, my love. You must trust me.”
“I trust you,” Astoria told her mother, straightening up bravely.
She’s strong, thought the mother. Too strong. This is the only way.
Astoria did not realize that her mother did not even know the merchant’s name. She did not understand when the man gave her mother a handful of coins in the exchange. The merchant took hold of Astoria’s hand, and the mother let go, biting her lip until it bled to keep from crying.
“We move out at first light,” the merchant said.
The mother handed him back the coins. “Leave tonight. Leave now.”
The merchant raised a dark brow, but he did not question her. His golden tooth shone when he smiled. His fingers closed around the coins. “As you say. Come, little girl. We’ll wake my friends, and then, we will go.”
“Her name is Tori,” said the mother. It was what the village children called her when they played. It sounded unassuming and common. Her true name betrayed its Old World origins. The mother feared anything, even a name, might draw attention to her daughter.
“Come then, Tori.”
Astoria held on to the merchant’s thick hand, and they left to wake his friends. The chain on the side of his face jingled lightly. His friends would be wearing chains too, the mother knew, though not on their faces. Soon, her daughter would wear chains as well. Astoria looked back one last time, her tawny face streaked with tears.
The mother managed a feeble smile. “Be brave, my love.”
The tent flap fell, separating them forever. Mother and daughter, blood of the same magical blood, no more.
“I’m sorry,” the mother murmured to the vacant tent. Her heart collapsed inside the hollow cave of her chest.
Her daughter was gone. But there was no time to mourn. Her daughter was not safe yet.
The creatures had sensed magic. They hungered for blood, and the mother would give them what they had come for. Her magic was of the realm of minds, and it was important Astoria forget the things she could do. As she hurried from the merchant’s tent, the mother reached out with her sense, found her daughter’s mind, and reached inside. One by one, she removed the memories that made Astoria who she was, what she was. Each one brought tears. She was robbing her own daughter, but it was the only way.
She hurried to finish, hoping it was enough. Already, the mother felt the creatures coming. They had sensed her magic, as they had sensed her daughter’s before.
But this time, the mother opened herself to their sense, and their minds washed over her, pulsing with hunger and anticipation. They had crossed the world for this. The creatures changed their skins and flew to find her, soaring on black wings. The mother rose from the ground and flew to meet them, soaring with no wings at all. Only magic. Tears ran down her cheeks in cold, meteoric streaks as she flew across the city, as she flew to die.
Her blood rained down upon the city of tents. Her body fell like a star. The creatures fell like crows, and they sated their hunger.
But the mother greeted the gods with grateful tears.
Her daughter was safe. That was all she had asked of them.
Astoria was safe.
The thrilling second installment in the Shadow Watch series!
Author: S.A. Klopfenstein
Series: The Shadow Watch series #2
Pub. Date: March 26, 2019
Publisher: Guardian Grey Publishing
Formats: Paperback, eBook
The Shadow Watch has been undone. Their captain lies in the dungeons of the White Citadel, and the Gallows Girl has disappeared. Most of the surviving Watchers have joined the chancellor's new magical army, the Sky Guard, led by Darien Redvar, but the Gallows Boy is shaken from the return of the monsters of the Old World, and he must soon choose, once and for all, where his loyalties lie.
Tori and Mischa trek to the Great White North with an Alyut shaman, who believes Tori is the one who will bring Restoration to his people. A resistance is growing in the North, but Tori may not be the god the people are looking for, and the price of revolution may cost Tori her heart as well as her life.
Meanwhile, another threat grows in strength. Old World monsters are rising up across the New World, and no one knows how they've returned. As nations ready themselves for a magical war, their return threatens to change everything.
New alliances are set in place, new friendships are forged, new loves kindled. But no one is safe, for there can be no war without betrayal.
Don't miss this the latest installment in the epic fantasy series readers are comparing to Mistborn and Throne of Glass!
About the Author:
S.A. Klopfenstein grew up on a steady dose of Tolkien and Star Wars. As a child, he wrote his first story about a sleepwalking killer who was executed by lethal injection.
He lives in the American West with his wife and their dog, Iorek Byrnison. He can be found exploring the peaks of the Rocky Mountains, or daring the halls of the middle school where he teaches Language Arts.
- 1 lucky winner will win a finished copy of THE SHADOW WATCH & THE RAGE OF SAINTS, US Only.
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