Virtual Book Tour Dates: 6/12/14 – 7/10/14
Genres: Light Fantasy, Epic Fantasy, Historical Fantasy, Action-Adventure
Muus is only a thrall, a chattel without rights, but he knows the small, blue shard he picked up belongs to him alone. His commonsense saves their lives from cold and starvation.
Kjelle, heir to the Lord of a rich mininghold, is spoiled, and covetous of his
thrall’s tantalizing find. His greed causes an avalanche that leaves both
young men marooned on an icy mountain slope.
Birthe, young wisewoman and huntress, mother of baby boy Búi, is brave and clever. She knows her way through the snowy wilderness of the Norden and her songs are filled with magic.
Now they are bound together on a danger-laden journey to a lost and burning land, where Muus needs to connect the skyshard to the Kalmanir, the standing stone that is the world’s fount of all magic. The Kalmanir’s time is almost up and it urgently needs to be replenished before the magic of Gods and men runs out.
The two boys have to learn to trust each other, for all around them, enemies abound.
Rebels threaten both the kingdom and Kjelle’s holding, and a tribe of mad idolaters is trying to recall the banned primordial Old Gods.
Even more imminent is Muus’ danger, for it comes from nearby, from the shard itself.
After a bend in the path, Hagen halted. He peered at the ground, uncertain like a hound that found a fresh bear track. ‘Holderling, the snow – I don’t trust it.’
Kjelle cast a suspicious glance at the ground. ‘What about it?’
The karl hesitated. ‘I don’t know if it is safe to go further. The snow isn’t solid. An avalanche …’
‘Nonsense,’ said Kjelle, turning away. ‘The slope looks fine. Keep moving; we’re almost at the high pasture.’
The nearer they came to the plateau where in summer the sheep grazed, the brighter the blue glow became. The last stretch seemed like walking through the cold fires of Helheim, past rocks and snow, covered with dancing light. Muus glanced at Kjelle’s face. He noticed the glistening sweat on Kjelle’s forehead, the staring eyes and the hasty white puffs of his breathing. Muus knew Kjelle was scared. Muus remembered Kjelle’s training sessions with Oskar, the drunken, blustering weapon master. Muus had been there, guarding the Holderling’s weapons, watching his master fight, sweating and shaking, while Oskar shouted and pressed him. Kjelle was always angry after those sessions with Oskar, angry at his slave, never at the weapon master. Muus laughed soundlessly. Kjelle must be the only Nord who’d completed his manhood’s Testing by hunting a nearly dead bear. Muus had been there. He’d carried his master’s spears and he knew someone else had gone first and done the real work. It was because the Holderling’s life was precious and he couldn’t be risked, people said. Muus knew the truth. The Holderling with his blustery mouth and his hard hands was scared.
After three hours on the mountain, they reached the high pasture.
‘By Thor’s Beard.’ whispered Kjelle. In the middle of the field was a round hole, about a foot deep and round as the shield of a giant. The blue light radiated from the shield’s center.
The men murmured uneasily. ‘Alf work,’ shouted Orn. ‘We must get away from here, before the svartalves drag us into the mountain.’ Muus saw his whole face contort in fear.’
‘Svartalves are a bard’s tale,’ said Hagen. ‘Shut up and wait for orders.’ He looked at Kjelle.
The Holderling wiped the sweat from his face. ‘Go see what it is,’ said he, poking his slave.
Muus shrugged. The blue glow didn’t scare him and he walked into the circle. The light enveloped him as if in welcome. In the middle lay a shard the color of a cloudless winter sky, translucent like a lump of ice and as big as the palm of his hand. This was where the glow came from. Without thinking, Muus picked up the shard. A noiseless flash covered him; a sharp pain came and went. As he stood there in a daze, staring at the glowing stone, Kjelle came up to him.
‘What have you got there?’ he snapped. ‘Give it to me.’ The Holderling held out a compelling hand.
Muus started to give him the stone, when a voice in his head said, ‘No.’
‘No?’ said Kjelle in disbelieve.
With a shock, Muus realized that he had spoken aloud.
His master exploded in wrath. ‘You mangy rat! Give it to me, or I’ll leave your carcass here for the wolves.’
The skyshard strengthened Muus’ resolve and he shook his head. ‘It’s mine,’ said he in a soft voice. ‘I found it.’
‘You’re a slave,’ yelled Kjelle. ‘Nothing is yours.’ He grabbed Muus’ hand and squeezed.
Muus tried to break free, but the Holderling was stronger. When Kjelle bent his middle finger back, he had to give in. He opened his hand and eagerly Kjelle grabbed the blue stone. The moment his fingers touched the shiny surface, a thunderclap echoed against the top of the Silfjall and shook the plateau. A massive tremor threw Kjelle and Muus hard against the mountainside. From somewhere came a cry of deadly fear, which was drowned out by a growling like the awakening of a large, hungry snow bear. Dazed, Muus saw an immense load of snow pass within an arm’s length of where he lay. Without thinking, he pressed himself against the mountain, his ears filled with the wild roar of the avalanche. It happened in three or four heartbeats, before a final boulder bounced past and a swirling cloud of fine powder rose above the pasture. The roar died into deep silence.
Connect With The Author:
Paul E. Horsman is a Dutch and international Fantasy author-publisher,
Born in Bussum, a quiet little suburbal village in the Netherlands (1952).
After finishing school and doing a stint in the army in tropical Surinam, he served for thirty years as a Scoutmaster. Professionally, he earned his bread in various business capacities.
From 1995 to 2012 he was an instructor at a large educational institution – where he taught foreigners the wonders of the Dutch language and customs – until Governmental budget cuts terminated both the school and his job.
Since then is Horsman a full-time fantasy author.
His first three Dutch books have been trade published in The Netherlands by Zilverspoor.
His English books are published under the Red Rune Books label and appear at Amazon and many major on-line book stores.
His tales are light fantasy, characterized by their positive mood. Equality and friendship, courage and determination, humor and growth form some of the colors with which Horsman paints his stories. His worlds and their peoples are diverse and full of adventure. And behind it all there is always that dusty scent of old death so characteristic of dungeons, and the smell of dragons, kobolds or other denizens of other worlds.
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