Man oh Man, do I have a good post for you today. My writing pal Sarina has released her second novel in her series and I not only got a free copy for review, I was a critique partner AND I have two awesome excerpts for you. You can find my review for her first novel, Rise of the Sparrows here if you haven't seen that already.
Once a despised street rat, now the reigning queen of Rifarne, Rachael is at the centre of everyone's attention. All she wants is a few peaceful moments to herself— but her kingdom has other plans.
The Tramuran ambassador unnerves her.
The Krymistian lady is hiding something.
A Mist Woman brings her a gift, and a warning: Aeron's death has released the Dark One's shades into the world. And Rachael, as the only living seer in existence, is the only one who can stop him before he destroys everything she's beginning to cherish. But can Rachael trust the Mist Woman, or is Kaida just another sorceress playing with her life?
There's a chance that answers are hidden beneath the ancient Krymistian ruins of Archos.
If only she could be sure that her nightmares of Cephy are just that, and not something darker...
Rachael is running out of time. The shadows are coming, and their claws are reaching for her.
Excerpt 1 - Vision
There was warm sand underneath her feet. A gentle breeze caressed her skin, warm under the hot Krymistian sun. Tall men, dressed in heavy, golden armour with heavy swords on their backs, stood around her. Rachael couldn't tell if it was the sunlight that made them glow, or the gift.
She followed them, curious to see where they were going. They headed toward a structure in the distance, and she floated along.
The men spoke in a foreign language in rushed tones. Rachael didn’t need to understand them to know they were here for important reasons; she just knew.
One breath later and they reached the structure, a ruin made of sandstone. More men sat around a fire, dressed in the same heavy armour. A sorcerer sat nearby in the long, elegant robes which spoke volumes of his standing back home.
The men greeted each other. When Rachael closed her eyes or focused on other things she could understand scattered words. She was positive she didn’t know the language, but her visions had a way of making her understand the vital moments. They were afraid. They were angry, the sorcerer even more so than the soldiers, who hid it better but were afraid nonetheless. One word repeated more than the others—dragon. She looked up, searching the skies. They were clear, blue, and beautiful.
Then the men moved, the sorcerer protected in the middle.
Rachael couldn’t see what they were walking to at first, until a narrow passage formed at the wave of the soldier’s hand, revealing steps deep into the ground. The men led on, casting nervous glances to the heavens, and she followed.
The air was cold and stuffy so far belowground. The soldier waved his hand again, and green lights lit around the chamber in their iron wall fittings to reveal statues of guardians and kings and queens long gone.
The sorcerer brought forth a heavy tome from under his robes, and was led into another room. Rachael didn’t follow, much as she wanted to. Her feet remained rooted to the ground.
Two soldiers accompanied the sorcerer, but the remaining men stayed in the larger chamber. They were nervous, shuffling their feet when they believed their comrades wouldn't notice, and cast nervous glances back the way they had come. They were still scared of the dragon. But a dragon wouldn’t fit through the small entrance. A dragon could only breathe fire down the steps, and incinerate everyone trapped below the sands.
Rachael was safe, an observer in someone else's dream, but what of the men? Would they meet an agonising end all over again, just so she could witness it? Would she experience the same pain?
One of the guards looked around, and then their eyes met. He froze, but didn’t alert the others. Rachael froze, too. He held her gaze as he tentatively walked closer to her, one hand outstretched while his other palm clutched his sword. Her sword. Or a twin of her sword. A long-lost sister.
Rachael reached out with her hand, too. His disbelief mirrored her own surprise. Before their fingers met, the sorcerer came back into the room and the soldier stood at attention. The heavy door was shut, sealing the tome inside.
Then the chanting began, and a green light engulfed the soldiers and the sorcerer. They didn’t look to be in any pain as the spell took their lives. They no longer knew fear.
Only peace, and purpose.
Once again Sarina had blown me away with the beautiful simplicity of her covers. It's absolutely stunning and her cover designer deserves a medal! The blurb is a little mysterious but then it only made me want to read the novel more!
I loved that this story picked up right from where we left off. There wasn't a big timeline gap like there can be with some sequels. Although, that's not a bad thing! Our main character Rachael finds herself in a new role as Queen and is surrounded by assassins and self-doubt. HER FLAWS ARE REAL GUYS. There are so many elements to this story.
We are introduced to new settings which are executed perfectly. Langer's worldbuilding skills are phenomenal and I could really picture the scenes and places the cast travel too. The sub characters and their relationships with Rachael are built really well and I loved that I kept second guessing my thoughts about a certain character. NO SPOILERS HERE. Rise of the Sparrows hooked me onto the series but Wardens of Archos has definitely made me a fan. I'm excited about the next book!
As I read an advanced copy there were some grammar and repetition which I am confident have been rectified for the final print. Trust me this is not an instalment you want to miss. It's rare for a sequel to be as good if not better than the first, but this book did just that!
Overall, this book is full of dark shadows and mysterious prophecies which are well explained and full of adventure. I loved every second of this book.
Excerpt 2 - Midokan Creation Myth
“Legend claims that a long time ago when the world was new, magic was in all things. But there was an abundance of it, and it leaked out of nature, for the world could not hold it. This leak created beings strong enough to hold that much power, and it gave them wings so they could watch over the world like no other.”
Rachael frowned. “You believe in dragons?”
“Of course not. Dragons went extinct a long time ago, but this is only a legend, remember? Who can say how much truth it holds.”
Rachael doubted it held any but didn't want to interrupt further. Ridiculous as the legend sounded, she became more interested in it the more Kaida told her.
“The leak supplied the dragons with too much power, and some became greedy. They sucked the magic out of all things until there was nothing left, and nature shrivelled and died. But not all dragons craved more. They fought those who did, and a fierce battle raged for many years. Many dragons died. Those who were content with what they had outnumbered those who wanted more, and finally, after seven hundred years, the last greedy dragon was slaughtered.
“Their magic leaked out of their bodies once more and returned to the world. Where the soil had dried up before rivers now ran clear, and where the ground had died new life sprang forth. Eventually, people evolved from the magic that had returned to the world, and therefore everyone holds at least a small amount of the gift inside them. While not all wish to use it or know how to, magic is in all of us. The dragons fought for peace and equality. That is what we believe and what we wish to achieve.”
About The Author:
Sarina is the author of the Relics of Ar'Zac trilogy. The first book in the series, Rise of the Sparrows, was released in late May 2016. She's currently working on the sequel, a new fantasy series as well as her first sci-fi novel.
She's obsessed with books and all things stationery, has a proud collection of over twenty notebooks, and squees every time she buys a new notebook, pen (hmmm, fountain pens <3 ) or highlighters.
In her free time, she reads fantasy and sci-fi novels, plays video games and researches human sacrifice traditions and the end of the universe.
She loves talking about books, stationery, and everything related to writing, so make a cuppa, get a cookie, and say hi!