Book Spotlight – Tales of Erana: The Warrior’s Curse – Fantasy/Bundle

Here Be Monsters

Title: Tales of Erana: The Warrior’s Curse

Author: A. L. Butcher

Genre: Fantasy/Mythic/Dark Fantasy/Short Stories

Main character description (short).

“I am Saelth and I have come to slay your monster,” he announced. His words were bold and his demeanour bolder. Behind him rode the fiercest of his band, axemen and archers, trackers and swordsmen. A mean crew indeed and feared about the land; fur-clad and blooded, they were blades for hire.

Synopsis: He who bargains with monsters beware! A hero forges an unholy bargain with a witch and learns magic never forgets.

In a land of forbidden magic, a mysterious cave holds both riches and danger for three adventurers who discover a mighty treasure and a terrible secret.

 

Tales of Erana: The Warrior’s Curse Excerpt

© A. L. Butcher

On the nights when the moon rose to its fullest, its light a silver sheen upon the roof of the Great Hall, a terrible monster came. His voice was like the rasping of flesh on a blade, his countenance blighted and ugly, twisted like melted flesh with great weeping sores and a putrid smell. Many warriors had tried to vanquish this foul creature, and now their bones lay with the prince’s in the barrow to the east of Eadsham, the settlement that had been forged by blood and toil by the first king, Aedwin. Widows were aplenty and many children made fatherless from this awful beast. Doors were bolted and barred, and not even the lord himself dared to face it. Such was his shame.

The king grew ever older and wishing to marry a man of bravery and honour to his daughter messengers once more rode out north, south, east and west in search of a hero, one with the fortitude to face this cursed beast, as they had done so many times before. On a night when clouds covered the moon’s light and rain fell in drops the size of marbles, the sky was rent with lightning as a great human warrior rode to the gates of the village. “I am Saelth and I have come to slay your monster,” he announced. His words were bold and his demeanour bolder. Behind him rode the fiercest of his band, axemen and archers, trackers and swordsmen. A mean crew indeed and feared about the land; fur-clad and blooded, they were blades for hire.

“We have slain creatures from nightmare and beasts that made grown men piss their drawers. Your curse will be lifted if the price is right!” His band nodded, for their rates were high indeed so that only lords and kings could afford their blades.

“No weapon forged by man can vanquish it! You’ll simply earn your place in the Hall of the Dead,” someone called.

Saelth looked around for the one who had spoken. “Then I shall go to the Halls of the Dead a hero, not one who cowers behind the table, or beneath the bed. I am no coward, nor simpering woman. Nothing is all powerful, or unable to be vanquished, save the gods.”

Why should readers buy this book?

The Warrior’s Curse is a tale of greed, adventure, monsters and the price of magic, set in a dark fantasy world. But it’s also a tale of people, their weaknesses and what some will do for power. It is a story within a story, as we start with a group of adventurers plundering a cave and learn of dark deeds and unholy bargains.

If you like mythic style fantasy, fast-paced adventure with a twist then you’ll love this.

Warriors Curse

Links etc.

Universal Link – all the major e-book stores)  https://www.books2read.com/WarriorsCurse

Amazon.com audio http://amzn.to/2Ei0EGe

 

Print

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1534782052/

The Warrior’s Curse also appears in Here Be Monsters

books2read.com/HereBeMonstersBundle

boxset Monsters

Here Be Monsters Bundle – Now on Preorder

I am delighted to announce the latest in the Myth, Monsters and Mayhem series of fantasy bundles. Here Be Monsters is now available on preorder.

Here Be Monsters

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We love to fear them and fight them. Monsters come in many forms, from the monsters within to the monsters outside and under the bed. Dare you venture into the caverns and the castles? Dare you enter the darkness of an accursed soul?

An eclectic collection of dark creatures and those who fight them. You have been warned.

Here Be Monsters features 19 tales of myths, monsters, and mayhem.

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Universal Link books2read.com/HereBeMonstersBundle

Amazon https://amzn.to/2JKTGrX

Kobo https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/here-be-monsters-10

Barnes and Noble http://bit.ly/2JBwvUY

I-books https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id1397846083

Bundlerabbit https://bundlerabbit.com/b/here-be-monsters

Featuring

  1. Monster Town” by Steven Savile
  2. “The Magic of Fabulous” by Michele Lang
  3. “A Murder of Crows” by DeAnna Knippling
  4. “Minotaur” by DJ Chamberlain
  5. “Tales of Erana: The Warrior’s Curse” by A. L. Butcher
  6. “Blackbeard’s Aliens” by Robert Jeschonek
  7. “Caught Between Monsters” by Stefon Mears
  8. “Night Terrors” by J.A. Pitts
  9. “Beasts of Tabat” by Cat Rambo
  10. “Demon Daze” by Deb Logan
  11. “A Knot of Trolls” by J.M. Ney-Grimm
  12. “The Stolen Tower” by A. L. Butcher
  13. “The Maker, the Teacher, and the Monster” by Leah Cutter
  14. “One Red Shoe” by Russ Crossley
  15. “Dawn of the Chupacabra” by Kyle Bergersen
  16. “To Be a Monster” by Jamie Ferguson
  17. “The Beast of Talesend” by Kyle Robert Shultz
  18. “Children of the Monster” by Russ Crossley
  19. “The Genie’s Secret” by Robert Jeschonek

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New Release! Here Be Fairies Bundle

OUT NOW!!!!!!

Here Be Fairies Bundle

https://bundlerabbit.com/b/here-be-fairies

Universal Link https://books2read.com/HereBeFairies

Amazon https://amzn.to/2GTpU6V

Amazon UK https://amzn.to/2HvhsYD

Kobo https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/here-be-fairies

Barnes and Noble http://bit.ly/2EFK3rd

I-books https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id1370755892

Fairies, fair folk, imps, trolls, and pixies—they haunt our myths from Ireland to Iceland and everywhere else. Join in the fairy fun, or fairy fear, as good, bad, and mischievous they show themselves. Dare you take the trip to Fairyland? No one who returns is ever quite the same.

A 13 -book fairy bundle.

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Featuring:

 

Flower Fairies by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Bride Thief by Brigid Collins

Feyland by Anthea Sharp

Phouka by Liz Pierce

The Giving Year by Alexandra Brandt

Summerland’s Paladin by Diana Benedict

Real Girl by Leslie Claire Walker

The Troll’s Belt by J.M. Ney-Grimm

The Clockwork Fairy Kingdom by Leah Cutter

The Kitchen Imps by A. L. Butcher

Faerie Fruit by Charlotte E. English

By Winter’s Forbidden Rite by DeAnna Knippling

Dark Dancer by Jaleta Clegg

fairies boxset

 

Swift Six Character Interview – Oeliana #Fantasy #ImmortalsBundle

Custom Image Immortals

 

Tell us about yourself: (Name, race/species, etc.)

Oeliana, Nymph of the Shimmering Forest, Guardian of the Maiden’s Grove, Keeper of the Sacred Pools. I am a nymph – what you would call a forest spirit. I am born of the forest, and it cannot die whilst I live… but creatures of magic like myself are hunted and destroyed, so I live in seclusion.

I have skin the colour of polish oak, and hair as green as ivy. To you I’d look like a tall humanoid, to an elf I appear more Elvish, I can be the wind in the trees, or the bubbling springs.

Which book/world do you live in?  

My home is the Shimmering Forest, which is located in the land of Erana. Once the Great Forest covered all the land but then the gods, in their wisdom, gave life to the elves and trolls – who honour the forest, and the humans and fae – who do not. The Shimmering Forest is not live your forests, it is the Primal Forest, the Mother of All. It is magical; primal, raw and wild magic, like the days when the land was young, and the gods still walked here. My Glade is a Sacred Glade, of the old times, now the magic is fading, dying.

My story? My legend is told in The Legend of Oeliana, a short tale (I wanted more – one cannot recount a life of centuries in a few pages) and this, in turn, features in larger works, so I am told. I also feature in The Shining Citadel, when I assist the Lady of the Light, and the Lord of the Storm, with their quest to find the Shining Citadel of Lor’Arthinis. For when the Blood that Flows with Light again walks among us the magic will rise again! It will either save us or curse us to oblivion.

The Legend of Oeliana – Single https://bundlerabbit.com/products/detail/legend-oeliana

3d computer graphics of a  forest elf with lantern

How do you see your world?

My world is dying. Magic sustains it and once it was everywhere and in all things to some extent. But the races warred, and the Plague came, and the magic began to die or hide.  Some say magic is alive, and yes if the wind is alive, or fire, or water. It does not think as you or I think; it knows, it senses and it gives sentience when it chooses. It wants to live, and to replicate. It wants to flow through the land, circle in the sky and pour through the rivers. But the Plague fed on magic, sometimes corrupting, sometimes destroying after the Plague hit the Elven Kingdoms worst of all, and their civilisation fell to dust the Civilisation of Men arose on the ashes. And they blamed the elves for the Plague and the wars, and as the elves wielded the greatest magic all who were magical were hunted. The land wept, and is weeping still.

What part do you play in this tale?

I am the Keeper of the Heart of the Maiden – one of the Items of Power needed to unlock the spell on the Citadel. But in my own tale I saved an elven prince from the mighty Indis the Fierce – the lord of the forest. I see you think him a man of some sort? Humans are weak, their lives are fleeting like a summer breeze in the trees. No Indis was and is a Dire Boar and even the Great Cats walk in fear of the Tusked Lord. People, generally, are more foolish than beasts and thus this prince, Rii’Athellan – the Morning Star, took into his head to hunt the great Indis.

Perhaps I should have let Indis have his victory, I should not have interfered. This prince was handsome, and I was lonely, you see. Even a creature of magic craves a mate, and offspring.

I knew not that this prince had a wife-in-waiting and for the outcome to that dilemma you must read.

Do you consider yourself a good person/creature?

What are good and evil? That depends on one’s point of view. I do not kill without necessity, but I often do not save when I could. I have taken life and preserved it. I do not abide by the laws of men or elves, for they are not my laws and mean nothing to me. I do not think myself cruel – for cruelty serves no purpose except for its own sake.

The destruction of the forest, and the ruination of magic are wicked, and I will protect both my forest and my magic how best I may.

Do you follow any religion?

I have seen the gods, long ago, and I have consulted with the Lady of the Skies when the drought, or the snow comes. But I am not ‘religious’. I do not have to ‘believe’ in what I know to be real. Things either are or they aren’t. If they are then respect them, if they aren’t then there is no bother. The gods are not evil, nor are they good. They are the gods and do as they please.

What is your favourite colour/food/music (pick one)?

My favourite colour is green, my favourite food is the wild mushrooms which grow near to my cottage, and my favourite music is the bubbling of my pool in the full moon.

Excerpt

When the world was young, and the wild magic flowed like the Great River, there lived a nymph, a spirit of the forest. Such beings once walked beneath the sun and moon; they were creatures of magic, incarnation of tree, of water, and the very essence of life itself. Oeliana was the nymph’s name, for this was also the name of the pool, deep, still and silver, from which she had been born when first the sun caressed the land. Fish swam among bright green fronds, scales of silver and azure, frogs and toads rested on dark grey rocks, long tongues feeding on the hovering flies and dragon-flies which darted above, seeking even smaller creatures for their dinner. Deer, wild goats and boar fed upon fallen apples and the widespread fungi; the Shimmering Forest was bountiful to its inhabitants, animal and person alike. Herbs grew there, thick and tall, even in winter. The herbs of the forest provided medicine for those who knew their power. Wild-goats, now tamed, provided both milk and a substitute for the companionship she lacked.

Hers was a life of duty, she was custodian of the trees, the forest creatures and pools, and so her time passed, timeless as she was. Even the common elves visited Oeliana, seeking guidance and the wisdom of the forest, and occasionally healing when their own healers had failed. They would bring gifts of food and polished stones or shells and the pool slowly filled with the gifts, for what use were trinkets to a nymph? Yet she was lonely for those who came and did not stay, they came for their own ends, and left with no further thought of the nymph. The spirit of the forest craved the touch of another, for she had seen the lovers who sometimes came to her glade and heard their words of love and their cries of pleasure. Never had she been loved nor experienced the passion which fascinated her as the lovers moved together on beds of moss and leaves. Magic demanded a high price and Oeliana was a creature of magic, and loneliness was the price she paid. So she watched, longing for a companion, and she prayed to the ancient gods, for even immortals need the favour of higher beings on occasion.

Rii’Athellan, the Morning Star, was a hunter, magic showed itself in many ways and the elven princeling was graced with a goodly portion. This day he had given his entourage the slip. The forest contained many dangers, even for one of his bloodline, but he preferred to hunt alone; the larger and fiercer the beast the more it pleased the elven prince. As silent as the grey fox and confident as an eagle, Rii’Athellan crept towards the clearing on the trail of a huge dire-boar. His father thought him reckless, but the young man craved danger, bored as he was from the politics of court and wishing he was allowed a little more excitement. He was not the heir, and he had not yet found his place in the world; he cared not for diplomacy and was jealous of his brother. He knew the Grove of the Maiden; oft before had he brought the girls whom he also liked to hunt and capture, although they were more willing prey and his favoured weapon was not a bow. These passions were conducted, if not in secret then with discretion, for this lord of the elves had been promised long since to Almethea, the daughter of the house of Il’thricken, a house both powerful and magical. This bride he cared not for, but duty-bound he would suffer the marriage. Such a one had little choice; alliances were all when elves made war.

This particular beast was Indis the Fierce, large, ill-tempered and canny; even the Great Cats walked in fear of Indis and the boar himself feared nothing, for he had never yet met his match. As tall as the elf at the shoulder, the hooked tusks of the boar were as long as his forearm. The elf murmured a prayer to his gods and nocked his bow as the boar snuffled among the trees, gobbling orange fungus and fallen apples. Occupied with filling his mighty jaws, the boar did not hear the elf, nor perceive the threat.

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Links to book etc.

And as part of 

Immortals Bundle

Monsters, Myth and Mayhem Vol 2

Universal Link https://books2read.com/Immortalsbundle

Bundle Rabbit https://bundlerabbit.com/b/immortals

Also features in Tales of Erana: Myths and Legends

Universal Link https://www.books2read.com/talesoferanaMyths

And The Shining Citadel 

Universal Link  https://www.books2read.com/ShiningCitadel

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

Book Spotlight – Dwarves of the World Bundle

#Fantasy #Dwarves 

Title: Dwarves of the World

Edited by: Ellen Michelle

Authors: Pat Flewwelling, Lisa Toohey, Dale Long, Brenda Carre, Clay Greene, Brandon Draga, Nicholas Jennings, Vincent Justin Mitra, and Sherry Peters

Genre: Fantasy

Main character description (short). Every main character is a dwarf. Each story has a different dwarf MC that goes through different adventures.

Synopsis: A collection of stories that celebrates dwarves and dwarf culture. Go on an adventure! Stay at home to eat and drink! Forge an axe! Explore what dwarves do or are meant to do, celebrate that and enjoy the culture.

Brief Excerpt 250 words: This excerpt is from the beginning of Sherry Peters’ story: Mabel the Masterful Dwarf

I rubbed my chin. Where just yesterday I felt only smooth skin, patches of short hairs now grew. I pinched the shaft of one between the nails of my first finger and thumb to measure its length. It had to be a record for overnight growth. If my beard continued to grow this fast it would be thick and full before long.

I grabbed my favorite blue tunic and forced it down over my belly. Going up a size of clothing was always a good sign, but this, combined with the beginnings of a beard, was huge. I should have expected it. After all, I was of age. Still, this was a day my best friend Emma and I had talked about all our lives.

I poked my head out my door and smelled pancakes, sausages, and maple syrup. “Max.” I called down the stairs to the youngest of my brothers.

Max, a year older than me, came to the bottom of the stairs, an overflowing plate in hand. Pork fat dripped into his coal black beard as he munched on a sausage. “What?”

“Can I borrow a tunic? Mine’s too tight.”

“Sure.” He handed me his plate while he went into his room.

I helped myself to a thick pork sausage. I licked my lips, savoring the fat and the hint of maple syrup.

 

Why should readers buy this book (50 words max)?

The Dwarves of the World bundle provides 9 fantastic short stories from 9 talented authors that explore the myths and corresponding mythology about dwarves and dwarf culture. Each story deals with a different aspect of dwarf culture with personalities and situations as unique as the humans you meet every day.

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Cover art credit should go to Ben Falco.

Links etc.

https://bundlerabbit.com/b/dwarves-world

 

 

Monsters and Myth – part 1 – Cyclopes

Fantastical creatures have featured in mythology and storytelling since people first sat around the fire and told of great beasts and wicked monsters. They are at the core of our cultures, from great dragons, to hydra, to sea monsters, mermaids, fairies and pretty much everything you can think of and some you wish you hadn’t.  Many  were humanoid, some carrying more arms, legs or eyes and some less. Some weren’t – lizards,  half birds, half lions, creatures which look they they are made up of left over bits of other animals. The unnatural zoology was vast.

Of course many still feature in modern fantasy – dragons, fairies/feyfolk, unicorns, shapechangers and more.  Paranormal fiction is extremely popular – with the vampires/werecreatures etc as the heroes. But what of the lesser known creatures? The nightmare of our ancestors?

The ancient Greek heroes fought and slayed everything from Medusa, the snake-haired woman whose gaze was petrifying, to one eyed Cyclopes – the offspring of mighty Poseidon and the sea nymph Thoosa, (Homeric tradition) or second generation gods – the spawn of Gaea and Uranus (Hesiod). They were giants, builders and liked to snack on mortals (and demi-gods) who strayed into their path. Some were famed for working for the lame god Hephaestus, and some such as Polyphemus were shepherds. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polyphemus).  Today I am going to focus on these creatures.

The Greek deities were a paranoid lot (with good reason for the most part) and the Cyclopes were imprisoned by Uranus who was afraid of their power. To be released again by the Titans and Chronos in order to defeat Uranus they were later imprisoned again as their power increased, only to be released by Zeus so they could help him overthrow the Titans. (Yes intrigue and double crossing was the staple diet of the Greek immortals.)

One eye had been traded in order that they may see into the future – but as such bargains often turn out – the small print was overlooked and all they could foresee was the day of their death.

Odysseus blinded and tricked Polyphemus, who had it must be admitted eaten several of the trickster’s friends – who in turn were trying to steal some of the giant’s provisions and had found their way into the cyclop’s den.

Getting the cyclops tipsy Odysseus thrust a burning, sharpened stake into the monster’s eye – then cried out his name was ‘No one’ or ‘Nobody’ (depending on the translation) so when the cyclops staggered outside crying ‘Nobody’ blinded him the other giants thought him mad.

Of course Odysseus being Odysseus couldn’t resist letting Polyphemus know who it really was once he was safely back at sea. Telling him it was ‘Odysseus, son of Laertes of Ithica who has blinded you’. This was not among Odysseus smarter plans as this particular cyclops was the son of Poseidon who was rather annoyed and send the great hero’s boat in a rather roundabout way home…

The story reappears in later myths – Virgil tells the story from the perspective of a seaman of Odysseus’ crew left behind (Aeneid) and Aeneas and his crew see the blinded giant and his companions and beat a hasty retreat.

Later mythological writers, including Ovid, speak of the love affair between Polyphemus and the sea-nymph Galataea – with a greater or lesser tragic ending (she loved another).  And Wilhem Grimm collected tales and retelling of one-eyed giants from Serbia, German, Finnish, Romanian and Russian mythology.

In the Renaissance composers brought the tales to opera. Giovanni Bononcini, Jean-Baptiste LullyJoseph Haydn  and George Frideric Handel composed works around the story of Polyphemus, Galataea and Acis, her lover (whom Polyphemus kills). Artists and sculptors too have used the cyclops and his tale as a basis for their work. Interestingly too the Scottish Rite Freemasons have Polyphemus as a symbol for civilisation that harms itself using ill-directed blind force.

Origins – Othenio Abel in 1914 argues the origins maybe from prehistorical dwarf elephant skulls – with a big central hole for the trunk, which of course would be gone by the time the fossil was found.

Cyclopia – is an uncommon but real condition is a ‘rare form of holoprosencephaly and is a congenital disorder (birth defect) characterized by the failure of the embryonic prosencephalon to properly divide the orbits of the eye into two cavities’. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyclopia

Often the nose is missing or is non-functioning and appears ABOVE the single eye-socket. The foetuses usually abort or are still-born, however some living cyclopic animals have been recorded, although they rarely survive for long. Causes can include toxins such as cornlily or false hellebore Veratrum californicum – which resembles Hellebore, which is given as a natural remedy for vomiting, cramps and poor circulation. White Hellebore, which was cited by Hippocrates, also contains teratogens  which can cause the deformity. Genetics too can cause the condition – the Sonic the Hedgehog gene regulator (yes really) can suppress a particular protein needed in eye development in early embryos and cause the mutation.

So misunderstood fossils or deformities could have created a myth, which in turn became the story of one-eyed giants.

Sources:

http://www.theoi.com/Gigante/GigantePolyphemos.html

http://www.greekmythology.com/Myths/Creatures/Cyclopes/cyclopes.html

http://www.greek-gods.info/greek-heroes/odysseus/myths/odysseus-polyphemus/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyclopia

(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polyphemus)

Mutants: On the form, varieties and errors of the human body. (c) Armand Marie Leroi 2003

The Odyssey of Homer (various translations)