Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Book Spotlight ~ The Rogue Mage (The Sundered Web, Book Two) by Alex Thornbury #Fantasy

The Rogue Mage
The Sundered Web 
Book Two
Alex Thornbury

Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Shadow Lore Publishing
Date of Publication: 5th December 2023
ISBN: 978-0-6454970-4-5
Number of pages: 550
Word Count: 190,000
Cover Artist: Alejandro Colucci

Tagline: For humankind, she would be the monsters’ monster. She would be their fear in the night. She would be the terror come for them. 

About the Book: 

Elika crosses the Bridge to Magic to find the world ruled by magic, where nothing is as it seems. Mages run the streets, whilst the tsaren, their masters, war with each other. Though it is men who pay the price with their lives.

Faced with the injustice of the mages and the new world order, Elika discovers her own untapped gifts that may yet shift the balance of power back into the hands of men. But her dabbling in the power she does not understand draws the attention of the dreaded demigod Syn’Moreg.

Elika must now outwit the shadow that hunts her, whilst seeking a way to free mankind from their oppressors. Yet dark grows her heart, and to darkness it reaches for that which the shadow denies.

As whispers of a newly found heir to the Sacred Crowns grow to cries of war, Elika comes to realize that she may not be the savior of mankind after all. Mite has proclaimed himself King Northwind, and marches on Terren to claim what is rightfully his. Elika is certain he will fail, unless she can vanquish the one power standing in his way. But to do that, she must convince the court and the archmage that she is the demigoddess Arala returned.

Read an Excerpt:

Aeon-Greengrass’ house was easy to find, illuminated as it was with moonlight. The chimney was a weave of branches, and grass grew from the walls. She peered down from the edge of the roof to a small balcony, and silently lowered herself onto it. The tree branches stirred under her feet, then stilled. Instead of a window, an airy opening, with black webbing barred her way inside.

‘Open,’ she commanded in a whisper, pushing her will into the surrounding essence, and felt the answering quiver.

The black strands parted, and she strode inside into a darkened lounge. Had she come here to rob, she would have needed ten sacks for all the loot.

Every surface was crowded with silver ornaments in strange shapes and flowing forms that resembled nothing you’d find in nature. She was drawn to a figurine that resembled a twisting, spiralling shape of a man, as if his body was made from water. Another figurine was of a dog, his earthly form also looped and stretched around itself, a grotesque torment of the natural order.

There were trees and flowers and animals, all twisted and bent. Yet there was an odd beauty in the grotesqueness that tugged at her primal heart. Was this how they saw her world? Strange that these ugly beings searched for beauty and crafted it in their own appalling way.
What do you want from our world? she pondered. Surely your own is of much greater splendour, abound as it is with magic and wonder.

Dangerous musings, she thought, and abruptly turned away before her resolve wavered.

Inside the house, there were no doors, only archways in the walls of branches with strange, whimsical fruit sprouting from their tips. No fruit was the same, and when she touched one, it felt hollow and light as if spun from dust and wishes. Under her foot, there was a carpet of grass. In it grew small flowers, akin to those a child might draw with a stick in the mud, both extravagant and clumsy in their form. The petals were of different sizes and irregular in shape.

Everything here gave an impression of simultaneous worship and corruption of nature, as if the Laifae did not understand how it all fitted together.

At the end of the hall, she came to a doorway. A black web barred her way. Beyond it, she felt his essence, the creature who gave this house its form. She focused on that essence, placed the hand on the webbing and whispered, ‘Do not resist me.’

Warm, slick strands trembled under her fingers and parted before her, allowing her entry into the majren’s bedchamber. A light glowed in a lantern beside his bed, illuminating the youthful face of the sleeping mage. He was a youth … no, the body he had stolen belonged to a youth whose limbs still had not developed the bulk of a full-grown man. It was an absurdly wrong body for the man who held such an important position in the archmage’s dominion. Curled on his side, he looked like a child in peaceful slumber.

The child is dead, she reminded herself, willing the anger to grow.

Still, she could not look at him and do what must be done. She sent a black tendril to extinguish the flame in his lantern, and the room was plunged into darkness.

Aeon-Greengrass startled awake and sat up.

‘Who’s there?’ He moved his face searchingly, back and forth, past where she stood.
She froze, realising that he was blind in the dark of night. His ears were sharp, however, and he must have heard her intake of breath, or perhaps the frantic beating of her heart.

‘Guards! Guards!’ He shouted from inside the dead man’s chest, a sound akin to a strangled roar.

Without further thought, she grasped the threads of his essence and pulled.

‘No! Spare me. I have gold and riches.’

‘Riches you earned by selling the lives of men.’

‘Who are you, mistress?’ he gasped.

In reply, she pulled harder upon the threads. He groaned and writhed and finally fell lifeless back onto his bed.

‘A life for a life.’ She uttered the mantra from long ago, which they had lived by on the streets.

And something inside her grew cold and dark.

A crack under her feet … she plunged through the floor and hit the lower level with a rough thud.

She groaned, rolled, noting that nothing was broken, and looked up. But of course, she thought, with the Laifae gone, so was his magic. The grass floor morphed to rotting wood, decayed and barely holding the house together. The walls of the house were wilting and vanishing, and the stones which had been held firm by black webbing began to crumble and crash around her.
Elika scrambled to her feet, raced to the window and jumped out. Behind her, the house fell to rubble and dust chased her down the street. Shouts and calls came from the folk as they emerged to gape at the rubble she had left behind. When she was out of their sight, she slowed to a walk.

A wind brushed her hood.

She stopped, and her heart raced with recognition and fear.

The wind blew again, stronger this time.

She knew that wind. Knew it as well as her own breath. She had lived beside the dark chasm most of her life, had listened to the shrill screams upon it. But she was far from the chasm, and the wind of the Abyss did not travel far past it. Yet here it was, filled with biting rage, swirling around her. And on it, she felt a dark presence. Something followed her that was not a man.

She spun around and probed the deep, lurking shadows of the night, straining her ears to listen to the silence hidden by the wailing wind. A terrible power drew near. She felt its approach in the depths of her bones. The very essence of the world bent and trembled beneath it. It charged the air with its rage. A pulse of that rage went past, and a tremor shook the ground beneath her feet. She staggered but managed not to fall, turned again, trying to see where the nearing storm was coming from.

It stilled, as if also listening. Then, as if it caught her scent, the terror charged towards her.

She darted for the closest rainwater pipe and, in an instant, scrambled up it to the roof, lay flat on her stomach and peered over the edge. No one was there. No sound, no movement in the faintly lit street. Still, the sense of danger prickling her skin was a physical sensation she could not ignore. Something was there, seeking her, scanning the roofs where she had climbed. Aye, there were eyes searching for her, brushing past her.

Darkness moved, and she saw it, a shadow darker than the night untouched by moonlight. It moved and vanished. And the winds of the Abyss grew still.

She rolled away from the edge and stared up at the moon, waiting until she was certain the shadow had left. Then she rose and ran home.

About the Author: 

Alex Thornbury is an award-winning author. She grew up in Cheshire UK, and developed deep love of history and fantasy thanks to the many castles she visited as a child. Though she grew up to be an Alchemist by trade, she never stopped fantasising about other worlds, dragons and epic battles.

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