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The Dragon’s Back by @e_s_matthew is a Book Series Starter pick #booksale #fantasy #giveaway
Title: The Dragon’s Back
Author: E.S. Matthew
In a divided world plagued by oppression and persecution, a monster hunter and renegade mage must embark on a dangerous adventure to awaken a long-dormant dragon and challenge an all-powerful evil force.
Queen Morflava’s reign of terror seems unstoppable as the malevolent mage sows division and hate among humans and fae. With the Warlord Council disbanded and the Citadel destroyed in the devastating Mage Purge, the continent is desperate for a hero.
Cali, last of the Mancar War-Clan, final Apprentice of the Mecha-Mage, and survivor of the Mage Purge, can no longer ignore the call of her dying father’s last words. She must reclaim a powerful artifact said to be her birthright. An object capable of reawakening dragons and challenging Morflava’s rule.
On this perilous journey, Cali is pursued by the Queen’s army, led by her twin brother who betrayed her parents’ legacy by serving as enforcer for Morflava. This murderous horde will stop at nothing to prevent Cali from succeeding in her mission to overthrow the Queen.
But Cali isn’t alone, as an unlikely band of tenacious survivors and outcasts join her in taking on this perilous quest. As they trek over brutal mountains and desert landscapes, will the group of companions be able to resurrect a dragon and inspire a revolution of hope, or will the world be forever caught in the grip of despair under Morflava’s iron fist?
Cali was free at this point. Her hands came together quickly and reached for a hunting knife in her boot. It was gone. She looked down. Of course, it had fallen below her. Nearly fifteen feet down.
Using her hands to rotate her body, she finally saw her companion. He was older than her, well-dressed and clearly sick, despite the charisma in his voice. She also saw that he was right about the foot. It was quite black at this point.
But he still managed to look smug. “Now what, girlie? I’ve been here three days and watched this troll eat five other living things—elves and finfolk and other humans, too. You got hands? What do you think you can do with—?”
He cut himself off as Cali’s thick, bulging, dark-green gloves started to move in a series of circles. The cuffs of the gloves, too, started to turn with a mechanical whirring, and her voice emitted a chant. He saw the colors that appeared in her fingers—green, yellow, and blue—and watched as they radiated up her hand until they merged into the white of her gloved palm. There, a small ball of white substance started to form as the clicking at her wrists increased.
He managed to speak, “A mage…”
The white energy ball Cali conjured was becoming more solid than mere light when she heard Belbungus say, “Lighty too bright, meatsies. Whachya make thar?” But he understood it as quickly as he asked.
With a speed and agility that surprised her, the troll sprang from his position near the firepit and covered the field in three paces.
Cali tossed the energy ball at the branch that held her. The explosion of cinders and splinters happened at the same time as Belbungus’ attempt to grab her. He reached to seize her head—to end this with a quick and easy decapitation. But instead, he grasped her leg.
With red cinders and jagged splinters in his eyes, he jerked back and yelled, “Helly hoo harsh mutts!” And then yanking down on what he thought was her head, he roughly threw her to the ground.
Cali hit the ground with a thud, elated, despite the pain, at her earned freedom. As Belbungus slapped at his eyes, she grinned because her hand found itself laid precisely on the hilt of her hunting knife.
“Wahtwer, wahtwer!” Belbungus exclaimed, running away from them, along the tree line to a creek.
“Quick!” the man said. “Use those hands I never doubted! Cut me down!”
Cali wasted no time. From the kneeling position, she threw the hunting knife overhand like a hatchet. It turned through the air, timed to pierce the rope that held the man, before embedding itself in a branch high above. While the throw was perfect, the knife was now out of reach.
The man fell to the ground with a greater thud than Cali. She ran to him. “Come on, we’re going to have to move fast.”
“Not too likely for me,” he said. They both looked at his very dead right foot. He smirked. They heard Belbungus splashing not far off. They knew he had nearly finished washing his eyes because, while the splashing persisted, the screaming had stopped.
“Can you magic us out of here?” the man asked.
“It doesn’t work that way,” Cali said.
“It doesn’t?” he asked with genuine concern. “Well, why the hell not?!”
Cali had shifted her gaze to the troll’s axe embedded in the stump several dozens of yards away. She had no other option.
Belbungus forced her decision anyway. He reappeared, soaked head to toe and wiping his eyes.
The small clearing of grass amid this forest now had Belbungus at one end, the man and Cali near the tree in the middle, and at the far end the stump that bore the axe.
Everyone was still at first, staring at each other. Then Cali turned and ran away from Belbungus.
She heard the man scream, “Cowardess!” And, “Really!?” Meanwhile, the troll started to bound towards them both.
Cali was moving fast, but not as fast as the troll. Belbungus would be at the man before she was at the axe, which had become her clear target. Because of its size, Cali had no idea of what she would do when she reached it, but she didn’t have time to worry about that now.
The man squealed when Belbungus bounded right past him, chasing Cali instead of stopping to chew on him.
Cali was within two paces of being grabbed by the troll when she reached for the axe. And just as her fingers came into contact with the oaken handle, the axe contracted quickly into a reasonable—though still large—double-sided battle axe. Only now it was one she could wield.
Quickly, with barely more than a stride between them, Cali heaved her entire weight backward, freeing the axe from the stump and flinging it over her head towards her pursuer.
This didn’t deter Belbungus a bit. The shrunken axe, while considerable, wasn’t much of a threat to a creature his size. Plus, he was in a rage-filled bloodlust at this point.
Then, just at the moment that the axe and the troll connected, the axe returned to its troll size. Magically, the blade became as large as Belbungus’ own head, which was an easy comparison to make since the blade sank completely into his skull, severing its hemispheres. The axe stopped only at the thickest part of the wooden handle. It was, in fact, more deeply embedded in Belbungus than it had been in the stump a moment before.
With an axe in his head, the troll’s legs moved mindlessly in circles for a moment before collapsing on the nearby firepit.
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Regular Price: $3.99
Price: $.99 Jan 9-11 (75% off)
Price: $1.99 Jan 12-16 (50% off)
Kindle eBook: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09ZF9WX3M
What makes your featured book a must-read?
Fans of Wheel of Time, The Stormlight Archives, and Lord of the Rings will love this sweeping new epic fantasy adventure.
Readers are saying:
⭐ "A gripping tale that kept me interested till the last page."
⭐ "Storytelling that transports you to another world."
⭐ "A phenomenal debut novel!"
⭐ "A tale woven with wit, charm, and imagination."
⭐ "Already looking forward to the next book in the series."
Enter to win a $40 Amazon gift card:
Open Internationally. You must have a valid Amazon US or Amazon Canada account to win.
Runs January 10 – January 18, 2023.
Winner will be drawn on January 19, 2023.
E.S. Matthew is many things and he tries to be even more.
He is the author of The Dragon’s Back, the first novel in the fantasy series The War of Hope and Doom. Inspired by his years of teaching literature to high schoolers, he has chosen to write retro-fantasy in an attempt to rehabilitate the classic genre for modern young readers and contemporary adults.
The stories he loved as a kid about fantasy worlds, awe-inspiring landscapes, foundling destinies, magical creatures, unlikely companions, and heroic journeys are ones he still enjoys sharing with his own children and students. But he realizes that these stories are often built with wrong-headed perspectives on many, many important things.
His love for this genre, and the exuberant imaginations that fuel it, are matched only by his passion for this generation of readers to find themselves within it. He was lucky to see himself in fantasy literature as a child, and he wants nothing less for his readers, his children, and his students.
But he also wants something for grown-up readers, like himself. He wants to re-capture some of the hope that fantasy once inspired in him. For adult readers in our modern, angry world, he seeks to offer such hope through refreshed landscapes—where nostalgia and progress can coexist, where our shared fright, tears, gasps, and joy can thrive.
So…he has ambitions. He has ambitions for himself and his readers. He hopes you find something of value in his work, The Dragon’s Back.
When he’s not teaching or writing, he cooks elaborate meals inspired by his favorite movies and books or accompanies his daughter on guitar for improvised Broadway musical revues.
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