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White Storks of Mercy Trilogy: Formation is a Best Books of '22 pick #timetravel #fantasy #giveaway

Title: White Storks of Mercy Trilogy: Formation

Author: Joni Anderson van Berkel

Genre: Epic Fantasy, Time Travel, Magical Realism, and Mythology

Book Blurb:

In a world where reality and fantasy coexist, a clairvoyant Sacred Stork from ancient Egypt named Tara recruits a group of diverse females and leads them on a mission to help humankind relinquish its destructive ways of violence and prejudice and instead embrace peace.

Known as the legendary White Storks of Mercy, these graceful birds hold the power to transform into women as they carry out their work. As humans they call themselves the Merciful Ones.

Throughout the course of their epic journey Tara’s jealous sister Reba, a telepathic Siamese cat with mind-controlling blue eyes, attempts to thwart her twin. Will these mystical beings overcome perilous odds to reset humanity’s moral compass, or will they be foiled by the ploys of a clever, manipulative cat and her supernatural spies?

White Storks of Mercy—Formation is the first book in a new trilogy by Joni Anderson van Berkel. Filled with magic, mythology, mystery, and mayhem, it promises to thrill and enchant its readers.


Chapter 11 – Save The Maiden

Zendala identified the Cathedral of Notre-Dame as she approached the city of Rouen in France at dusk on the thirtieth of May in a.d. 1431. She joined the two white storks with black-tipped wings circling Saint Romain’s tower. The leader welcomed this evidence that her companions had experienced no difficulties returning to the present time. More than thirty years tardy for their rendezvous, Zendala hoped that Maatkare and Blandina had organized the rescue of Joan of Arc without her.

The three birds landed on the high Gothic tower. The pharaoh shouted, “No time for pleasantries! Have you found your body?”

“Indeed, I did!”

Blandina spoke with urgency. “We must get into our disguises before the secular officials bring the Maid of Orléans to the execution site.” They flew after Maatkare. A few minutes later she led them through an open clerestory window at the Church of the Holy Savior. It had been left ajar by Joan’s friend and supporter Friar Martin Ladvenu. The three birds transformed into women together.

Zendala’s stork feet touched the stone floor. She experienced her initial thrilling sensory encounter as a woman. The sensation of cold spread upward from her big flat feet and encompassed her naked body. The dark interior prevented the three Merciful Ones from seeing each other. Blandina bumped into her leader. The Christian martyr handed over a serge tunic, a leather belt, and a scapular to be worn over the baggy garment. Last she gave her leader a wimple and a veil. The costume covered her amulets.

Blandina placed identical pieces over her white tunic. She explained that Friar Martin had provided the clothing for their disguises. “You will meet him later.”

Maatkare donned the garb of a priest looking the part with her short jet-black hair slicked back. On top of her kilt, she wore a white linen alb girded with a cincture under a traditional embroidered ankle-length scarf called a stole. She hid her jeweled beard and ruby earrings in a pocket of the cassock and wore deerskin gloves to hide her painted nails.

Friar Martin waited outside in the shadows guarding a covered cart carrying the corpse of a teen male awaiting burial. At the opportune time Maatkare planned to roll it as close as possible to the execution stake and exchange the dead lad for a living Joan of Arc.

Zendala dressed for the first time fumbling with stiff fingers never used before. She tucked her long white braid under the confining headdress. The “nun” placed a wooden cross hanging from a leather band over her head. She exited through the heavy wooden church doors and into the cool night where her fellow companions waited. Zendala’s golden eyes shone through like those of a diurnal owl.

Maatkare stepped forward and looked up at her tall chief. “I cannot make out every feature of your face, Tara. Yet I see that Re still shines his sun upon your irises in your new female form.”

The leader chuckled. “I now possess night vision as well. I call myself Tara no longer. A Tibetan Bodhisattva blessed me with a unique name—the Great and Honorable Zendala.”

Maatkare made no comment about the arrogant accolade. Blandina whispered her approval. “Greetings, Zendala. I missed you.” She patted the pouch of gold coins attached to her belt and explained their rescue plans as the noise of the approaching throng grew louder. Joan of Arc—who was once revered by all of France—was led into Old Market Square like an animal ready for auction. The peacemakers knew about her incredible history but Zendala alone foresaw the prisoner’s canonization in a.d. 1920 as the patron saint of France.

On this fateful night Zendala and Friar Martin introduced themselves and stood among the members of Rouen’s religious community. They watched as guards tied the innocent virgin warrior to a stake. The crowd quieted when the priest stepped forward holding a large crucifix in front of Joan to offer protection for her soul.

The kindling combusted and the fire’s heat grew. Sounds of hatred filled the air. Zendala saw Maatkare holding up the corpse. The ancient woman pushed forward to gain Joan’s attention. “Remember your motto! Go with boldness! Not yet to heaven but to join the White Storks of Mercy on our campaign for peace. Spend your eternal life with us!”

Friar Martin also pleaded in his loudest voice. “Leave now with these ladies! I trust them, my friend. Do not sacrifice your life to hypocrites!”

Joan was almost at the point of burning. She screamed. “Help me!”

Blandina sprang into action and shouted at the top of her lungs. “Gold coins!” She threw the entire contents of the leather pouch high into the air. The distraction worked. Everyone including the clergy turned away from the burning stake to scramble for money.

Maatkare risked her own skin to save the maiden by running into the fire. She exchanged the dead teen for Joan and hauled her out of the flames. Tears of relief ran down Friar Martin’s face as the Merciful Ones spirited the girl away. Zendala used her night vision and led them through the maze of dark village streets into the woods away from Rouen.

Buy Links (including Goodreads and BookBub):

What makes your featured book a must-read?

Readers seeking compelling reads equally steeped in mythology, history, and revised views of good, evil, and the choices that lie between them will find White Storks of Mercy: Formation engrossing and hard to put down.

Its special blend of magical realism and the quest of disparate peoples to live in harmony provide many points for book discussion groups, making it a top recommendation for libraries strong in fantasy and folktales that go beyond action to probe the motivations and perceptions of those involved in quests for power, healing, and peace.

Giveaway –

Enter to win a $35 Amazon gift card:

Open Internationally. You must have a valid Amazon US or Amazon Canada account to win.

Runs December 27 – January 5, 2023.

Winner will be drawn on January 6, 2023.

Author Biography:

JONI ANDERSON VAN BERKEL is a Colorado-born writer and artist who divides her time between Scottsdale, Arizona and Zurich, Switzerland. She is happily married to her Dutchman from Amsterdam.

Joni was educated at the University of Colorado and holds both Bachelor of Science and Master of Architecture degrees.

She studied script writing in Europe and wrote her first screenplay, Bad Julia, with the late David Sherwin. She has spent more than ten years writing her trilogy. The second novel of the epic trilogy called Reunion will be out in early 2023. A film script for book one, Formation, is underway.

Social Media Links:

Instagram account: whitestorksofmercy

1 Comment

N. N. Light
N. N. Light
Dec 29, 2022

Thank you, Joni, for sharing your book in our Best Books of 2022 Bookish Event!

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