Friday, November 6, 2015

Lioness Of Kell by Paul E. Horsman

Lioness of Kell

by Paul E. Horsman

Release Date: January 30th 2015
Red Rune Books

Secure in his position as the mighty Prince-warlock’s son, eighteen-year-old Basil is content with his solitary life of study and magic. He has a comfortable set of rooms in his father’s tower, he has his books and scrolls, and he is perfectly happy. Until the Warlockry Council summons him, and their demands sets his whole, safe existence tottering. Scared and unsure, he decides to run, and takes the first ship out of town. On board he meets Yarwan, the handsome midshipman, who awakens feelings he never knew existed.

Maud of the M'Brannoe, at nineteen already a mighty Kell warrioress, is about to graduate as a Lioness, a special duty officer answering to her Queen and no one else. The Prince-warlock asks her to fetch a certain boy from a pirate town, who could be double for his son. On their way back, someone sabotages their airship and the two find themselves marooned in an ill-reputed forest. Together, the young lioness and Jurgis the lookalike run for the coast and a ship home, while finding solace in each other’s arms.

 Then the four young people meet, and Basil learns of a spell that might help him. Only the spell’s creator, the infamous Black Warlock, disappeared nearly a century ago. When the four young people decide to go looking for him, they start on a path leading to an old war and unsolved mysteries that will change the world. Or kill them.

A spirited fantasy story of high adventure, sparkling humor and romantic love in an alternate earth setting of tropical islands, pirates, steamships and wyrms, where both magic and early modern technology flourish.

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When they returned to the Daisee, Yarwan met them at the gangway. He’d taken off his neat jacket and shirt, and his wiry torso shone with sweat as any sailor’s would.
‘The ship is ready,’ he said. ‘I found a load of moldering sail cloth and all the dead are sewn up for burial. I used rusted cannon balls as weights; most of them should be replaced anyhow. I’ve made notes for the new captain.’ The look he gave Darquine was devoid of expression. ‘Which one will it be? Assuming Uncle Naching promoted one of his own officers and doesn’t leave it to the Overcaptain?’
Darquine didn’t answer. She stared through narrowed eyes at the clean deck and the neatly furled sails, and Yarwan’s face tautened as if he expected another rejection. 
Maud gave an exasperated sigh. ‘Don’t torture the guy, Darquine. Yarwan, we didn’t want Naching’s toadies or any of the Overcaptain’s darlings either. You helped capture this ship. Your uncle says you’re qualified to handle her. That’s enough for us. So if you want the command, you’re in.’
It was as if a lamp lighted up on Yarwan’s face, showing his unexpected joy. ‘I do want it! Oh, I do.’
Maud gripped his hand. ‘Then you’re now the commander of the Chorwaynie cutter Daisee. Congratulations, Captain Yarwan.’
‘Thank you,’ the young man said, and he shone with pride. ‘I had a word with the Jentakans, and they helped get the ship back in order. I couldn’t promise anything, of course. But now we’ll have the best crew in the world.’
‘Those Chorwaynies served that creep Felrich,’ Jurgis asked. ‘Can they be trusted?’
‘To the death,’ Yarwan said, while he faced him squarely. ‘Only don’t call them Chorwaynies. They are Jentakans from Maiwar, one of the inland tribes. Most of our crews are Jentakans; they’re the best sailors in the world. They serve the ship through a personal oath between crew and captain, what we call shipbound. Hiton, their wandin, told me how they came to the Daisee. Their original captain was a drunkard and let their ship run on a reef here close by. They all survived, but the ship was lost and the crew’s honor with her. It made them shipless, and they had to cut off their pigtails. Then they hanged their captain and his officers, and waited for a ship to rescue them.’
‘They hanged them?’ Maud said, surprised.
Yarwan nodded. ‘In being drunk and losing the ship, the officers broke their part of the oath. That’s a mortal offense and hanging them for it is a lawful punishment. Never betray your crew. Had the captain, drunk or not, done his utmost yet failed, it would’ve been different, but he was insensible throughout and so were the other two.’ He gave the others a grim smile. ‘The same rule goes for me; it’s part of being captain.’ For a moment, he was silent. ‘The next ship to come for water and wood was Felrich, who took them on without the oath, paying them a pittance. So they did what they were paid for, but never served him.’
‘Wasn’t that lucky for us?’ Jurgis said. ‘I suppose they would’ve fought if they had sworn loyalty?’
Yarwan nodded. ‘They would.’ 
Darquine sighed. Then she poked Yarwan in the shoulder. ‘Don’t mind me. I arranged your captaincy with Naching, and now it’s done, I find myself jealous. I would so love to command this ship myself. But it won’t do. So best of luck to you, Captain Yarwan.’

Paul E. Horsman (1952) is a Dutch and International Fantasy Author. Born in the sleepy garden village of Bussum, The Netherlands, he now lives in Roosendaal, a town on the Dutch border with Belgium.

He has been a soldier, salesman, scoutmaster and from 1995 teacher of Dutch as a Second Language to refugees from all over the globe.

Since 2012, he is a full-time writer of epic light fantasy adventures for Y.A. and older. His works have been both trade published in The Netherlands, and self-published internationally.

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