by Isabel Cooper
Publication Date: 12/29/2020
About the Book:
Deep in the wilderness, a lone Sentinel discovers a handsome warrior in ancient clothing, held in an endless sleep—Amris, hero of the world’s last great battle. His discovery can only mean one thing: the Traitor God is gathering his armies again, and everyone they love is in terrible danger.
Amris has been trapped in dreamless sleep for centuries. Now he’s awake…and so, it seems, is humanity’s greatest threat. Determined to save the world from being swallowed by the Traitor God’s oncoming storm, Amris and his rescuer, the fiercely beautiful Darya, must learn to trust each other—and the powerful bond that’s formed between them—as they fight their way through a land swarming with danger to get word back to their allies before it’s too late…
Fans of The Witcher and Ilona Andrews will love this epic tale of adventure and romance.
Meet the Author:
During the day, ISABEL COOPER maintains her guise as a mild-mannered project manager in legal publishing. In her spare time, she enjoys video games, ballroom dancing, various geeky hobbies, and figuring out what wine goes best with leftover egg rolls. Cooper lives with two thriving houseplants in Boston, Massachusetts.
Author Website: https://isabelcooper.wordpress.com/
The world was silent, and that itself told Amris the spell had worked—not that he’d ever doubted Gerant’s skill, whether at magic or elsewhere. It was a different matter, though, to be transported, in the space of two breaths and two words, from the screams and crashes of a pitched battle to utter quiet, save for a single voice.
Because the voice wasn’t Gerant’s, nor any that he recognized, Amris’s reflexes carried him backward several steps and brought his sword up in front of him. He realized that the person who’d woken him was human and not Thyran, and hastily readied himself to defend rather than striking out, but it was a close thing.
The woman hissed and darted backward herself, moving with more than human speed or grace.
She was more than human. That became apparent as soon as Amris saw her eyes, unnaturally bright green and glowing in the dim light. Her skin was paper-white, her braided hair dark around it, and those could be human enough, but the eyes were a different matter.
“Easy, there,” she said. Her accent stretched the vowels out more than Amris was used to, and the words came more quickly, but he could understand her rightly enough, particularly when she held up her hands, palms out. “I’m on your side.”
Anyone could say so. “What side is that, pray?” Speaking felt odd. Gerant’s magic had kept his muscles from degeneration through however much time had passed, so he felt no worse than a little stiff, but just as sound had taken a moment to become words, Amris had to think at first: move the tongue this way for w, the lips and throat so for i.
The woman shrugged. “The side that doesn’t love the Traitor. The Order of the Dawn, the Sentinels… I think we were starting when you—” She waved a hand.
When he trapped himself in time in a desperate bid to stop the murderous warlord. “Yes. Only just.”
Still Amris didn’t lower his sword: the woman aside, there was no virtue in dropping his guard before he knew the situation. He did let the rose fall from his gauntleted fingers, and used that hand to pull off his helmet, a necessary compromise between defense and intelligible conversation.
The state of the hall became clearer to him as he did so—the years’ worth of dust and cobwebs, as well as the silence. The woman’s clothing—plain dark leather pants, jerkin, and gloves over a shirt of brown cloth—was plainer than he was used to, without even the embroidery that most peasants wore. Practicality, given where she was, or ascetism?
“I should tell you two things right off,” said the woman. “You might want to sit down first.”
Amris shook his head. “Best to face it on my feet.”
“All right,” she said. “First, you’ve been…” Another vague wave of her hand. “Stuck. For a hundred years or so.”
She’d spoken wisely when she’d advised him to sit. The knowledge traveled up through his feet as well as in through his ears, making the room spin around Amris, and yet it seemed not to reach his head or his heart. The sweat of battle was still wet in his hair, he still felt his cuts and bruises, and the rose on the floor was as fresh as it had been when he’d plucked it for Gerant.
That reached head and heart both. Gerant was as human as he. Had been as human, rather—in a hundred years, a babe in arms would grow, sire or bear their own children, see grandchildren, and die, and Gerant had been a man in his prime when they’d parted. He’d be long dead by now.
They’d both known that parting might be forever. Toward the end, any farewell might have been the last. Amris had never pictured it taking this form.
“Here.” The woman took a small metal flask out of her boot and brandished it in his direction.
The contents tasted roughly as they smelled. Amris had been a soldier long enough to swallow, nod his thanks, and trust that his throat wasn’t truly on fire. “Strong.”
“I keep it to clean out wounds.” One eyebrow quirked, and her mouth twisted in a wry smile. “I’d say this counts.”
“Truth.” A hundred years. A hundred years, and only now had somebody come to awaken him, but the hall was empty otherwise. “Before the second, lady,” he said, “was there another man nearby? There, roughly speaking?” He gestured to the place where Thyran had been standing at the last.
“No,” said Darya, peering at it, and then frowned. “But…wait.”
A small, uneven mound of gray powder lay heaped on the stone. Darya knelt and touched it with the tip of a gloved finger, feeling the texture as much as she dared. “Ash,” she said, “and—yes, bone. Bits of it. Wait.” There was a larger shape within the ash, but that wasn’t entirely why she’d stopped. As many shocks as it had gone through, her mind was still capable of calculation. “You’re looking for Thyran, aren’t you?”
The question sounded completely absurd. Thyran had shaped, bred, or summoned an army of things, led them against humanity, and cursed the world to years of barren cold when he’d begun to lose. Thyran was the Father of Storms and Abominations. He wasn’t somebody people looked for.
“Then you know of him,” Amris said, utterly serious.
“Bad children and old wives everywhere know of him. The Order taught us a little more of the real histories.” Beneath the ash lay a long finger, five-jointed, with a black talon at the end rather than a nail. Burial in the ash had kept most of the insects away and held off some rot, but the finger was still fairly disgusting. She grimaced. “Was he human at the end?”
“Mostly, in appearance,” Amris said slowly. He knelt beside her, squinting in the dim light. “Far harder to kill than mortals, or even any of his creatures.” Slowly he breathed out, sending ashes scattering. “And one of his defenses was dark fire.”
Excerpted from Stormbringer by Isabel Cooper. © 2020 by Isabel Cooper. Used with permission of the publisher, Sourcebooks Casablanca, an imprint of Sourcebooks, Inc. All rights reserved.
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