Please say hello to Lou Hoffman with
The Sun Child Chronicles #3
Hello! I’m Lou Hoffmann, very glad to be visiting My Fiction Nook today as part of my blog tour celebrating the release of Ciarrah’s Light, the third book in The Sun Child Chronicles. I’ve got a pretty good giveaway going on, and a question for you, but before we get to that…
… Let’s talk about shifters (again)!
When I was touring for the release of book two, Wraith Queen’s Veil, I stopped by here and talked about one very special shifter, Henry George, the California Condor. Through the end of that book, Henry was one of only two shifters in the story, Readers met Henry and the other shifter in Key of Behliseth—Henry from Earth, Tiro L’Rieve the great otter from the other world, Ethra. And Tiro is the only shifter that has ever lived in that world, unless you count dragons, although for hundreds of years, none of them have been shifting… although that doesn’t mean it can’t happen again….
You may recall that at the end of Wraith Queen’s Veil, Henry was traveling to Ethra (because he wanted to see Han, whom he’d developed a serious fancy for) in the company of the wizard Thurlock, Lucky’s mongrel dog Maizie, and a ghost cat named Lemon Martinez. It sounds like a silly sort of situation, and indeed, there are some humorous moments. Like this one, from Thurlock’s perspective:
THURLOCK, THE Premier Wizard of the Sunlands, stood in the middle of a wood he didn’t recognize holding what remained of his robes after what was—the last time Thurlock had checked—a ghost cat, had shredded the cloth with very physical claws.
“Well,” he said, but that was all, because really, what could one say in the situation? Which included, thankfully, fairly warm afternoon sunshine and nobody around but the persons he’d brought with him through the Portal of Naught. Both of those circumstances seemed to Thurlock particularly fortunate, because he was having a lot of difficulty finding his dignity, standing as he was in a well-worn ribbed tank shirt such as was sometimes referred to as an “old-man undershirt,” appropriately enough, and a pair of baggy white briefs with no particular flair or style. He was aware that in Earth, where he’d originally acquired said underwear, briefs could have quite a lot of flair, and the style could be anything from formidable to what he’d seen labeled as “hot.” But he was a thousand years old, so he didn’t want style, he wanted comfort.
Nevertheless standing around in nothing but those underthings, even without much of an audience, felt decidedly uncomfortable, so he draped the shredded cloth that had been his wizard’s robes moments ago over his body as well as he could, belted the garment, and sat down on a windfall log to think things through. He hadn’t gotten too far into the think when Henry—a man of Earth who was sometimes a California condor—sat up from where he had been lying dazed on the ground.
The question surprised Thurlock only because he’d been thinking more about underwear and real claws on ghost cats than on practical matters. He checked his senses. “Ethra,” he said, “I’m sure of it.”
But some of the moments those four travelers spend together would be much better described as tense—or even terrifying. This little snippet is how Henry sees such a not-so-funny moment when they’ve just entered a cave where things are not at all as they should be:
HENRY WAS reminded of the worst sort of old horror movie, the kind he used to watch as a child on his uncle Hank’s little portable TV set. The ones where dry ice laid a thick haze over sickly green- and fuchsia-colored lights embedded in the studio floor, and shapes formed and dissipated in pools of mist; it was supposed to make the viewer believe ghosts and vampires and creatures from lagoons could be real. But then again, what he was in the middle of now wasn’t like those productions at all, because those made him laugh. This was real, and something he sensed—something he couldn’t define—moved, seething, inside the darkness. The stink of death rolled toward him so thick that even he, a big vulture, felt sick from it.
But even though Henry was alone, there are thousands of Earthborn shifters, many species from all over the globe, and they’re in trouble. Something is making them sick, and it isn’t pretty. Meet Talon Bastien, Speaker of the Eagle Clan.:
TALON BASTIEN slowed his camouflage jeep enough to safely make the turn from the dry gravel of Sinlahekin Road to the dirt track that would take him to the clan aerie. The day was warm for March in the Okanogan, and he longed for the cool crispness he could find soaring hundreds of feet up in eagle form. He shook his head, refusing the idea, and kept driving.
More important to get the supplies in, he reminded himself.
Like most shifters he knew, he looked about half his eighty years, but at the moment he was feeling his age. Not so much in his body, which remained sturdy and stone-shouldered as always, but his heart felt heavier than ever before.
Why are these troubles hitting us now? he asked himself for what must have been the hundredth time, yet whatever the elusive connection was between the world condition and the aerie’s failing health, he still couldn’t see it.
He’d led the clan for more than forty years, ever since his father was shot down from a helicopter in an unlawful eagle hunt. That had been the last time the clan had faced a serious threat, what with government agencies mad-dogging every golden eagle, shifter or not, within a hundred miles of the Umatilla, where the clan had made its home for a hundred years or so prior. The teapot-sized storm that blew up when one of the scandal rags published an ill-gotten photo of a teenager in partial shift had eventually blown over, but it had been enough to uproot the clan.
A few hundred miles north, the Sinlahekin Wildlife Preserve turned out to be a perfect fit for the clan, and with Talon’s degree in ecology, he’d been able to get a job on the preserve’s staff, giving him the perfect excuse to be anywhere on the preserve on foot or in his jeep. Still, right now, he didn’t want questions, so he guided the jeep into hiding behind a low ridge with a convenient space between it and the thicker than usual Douglas firs on the other side, careful not to churn up the ground too much.
Out of the jeep, he stretched and rolled his shoulders, resisting once more the urge to shift and fly. Sick clan members waited, needing food, medicine, and warm blankets. He’d haul the stuff up on foot, pulling a travois in the old way as far as he could. It was too much to carry on foot or on the wing, and even the roughest roads stopped well before reaching the high ridges. After doing what he could to sweep away noticeable tire tracks, he took a swig from a water bottle, then gazed longingly at the open blue that beckoned overhead. Maybe later, he half promised himself. First, the clan needed him. He set up the already loaded skid, shouldered his pack, and stepped through a thicket of sage onto the almost invisible track that would take him home to the aerie.
Stepping across a stagnant remnant of a usually fresh creek, he tried to swat away despair with the black flies, but a growing worry gnawed at him. Whatever was happening to his clan, whatever malady kept them landbound in forms neither human nor bird, he’d begun to fear they’d never find a cure.
Henry accidentally goes back to Earth—something that’s apparently possible if one flies into a black mist—and finds himself in the Sinlahekin suffering that very same malady. I’m not going to tell you how the story gets him and a whole crowd of shifters from Earth to the middle of a battlefield in Ethra, but it does, and this is how Lucky sees it:
The ground began to shake, and a rolling thunder sounded from deep in the bowels of the world, flinging dust and pebbles into the air to be caught and carried away on a sudden wind that tore leaves and needles from trees. Lucky, like everyone else, struggled to stay on his feet and covered his face with his hands trying to protect his eyes.
When the quake, along with the roar and the wind of it, died away, he looked up, and then blinked in astonishment. On the field, in the area that had been partitioned by the mist-shadow curtain, a new horde—unlike the others—had come onto the field.
Wolves, eagles, owls, foxes, cougars, bears.
Then some of them shifted….
Ethra will never be the same—but that’s true in so many ways. Ciarrah’s Light is a true pivot point in the story of Lucky’s worlds, The Sun Child Chronicles. Three more books on the way, starting with Dragon’s Rise, which will be out no later than summer 2019.
Thanks for stopping by here. If you’re interested in following the tour, here’s a link to a post on my Stories with Pride blog where you can find all the events and blog stops. I’d love to see you along the way.
The raffle has several prizes including a gift card, and you can enter multiple times, multiple ways. For starters, you can answer this question (or say anything) in the post comments: What is your favorite shifter species and why? Or your favorite shifter? If you like, add a book recommendation. Another fun way to enter the raffle, answer the “I love fantasy poll…” Thanks and good luck!
And to the blog host, thank you very much for letting me visit!
About the book:
Publication Date: October 16, 2018
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press
Cover artist: Catt Ford
Length: Novel, about 120,000 words
Genre, tropes, types: YA Fantasy (sci-fi elements, LGBTQ+ Characters include Gay Teen MC, limited romance elements, series is coming-of-age/meeting destiny)
Notes: Includes violence in fantasy setting, no sexual elements, MC age is 16
Luccan, future Suth Chiell of the Ethran Sunlands, also known as Lucky, has just completed a harrowing quest, but his adventures and hardships are only beginning. There’s little time to rest before his ghostly mother’s specter attacks, drowning Lucky in horrible nightmares that drain his life and nearly kill him. Only through the power of his enchanted obsidian blade, Ciarrah, can Lucky claw his way out of the shadowy visions and back to daylight. But further horrors await him when he wakes up, and his country needs him—their Sun Child—more than ever.
Unstoppable wraiths—products of an advanced but dying alien world called Terrathia—are attacking, and swords and arrows cannot stop them. Fortunately Ciarrah’s magical light can, and with his dragon-kin uncle Han, his winged horse, a horde of shifters from Earth, and the wizard Thurlock at his back, Lucky faces the enemy, determined to put an end to his mother’s destructive evil once and for all. But will stopping her end the horrors facing his world?
Naht’kah and Nahk’tesh do not age, but Niamh and I were not immortal, and we aged and aged until we were but frail, wrinkled versions of our human selves. Still, the stones that had become part of us on that first flight with Naht’kah remained bound in our hides, shadows and lights under our human skins.
A day came when Nahk’tesh dove deep into his pool and came back up with a vision to share, a vision of evil sailing in on a distant horizon of human time. Naht’kah determined that the Drakha would not be defenseless when that time came, and she undertook to change them. They had been wanderers, but now she bound them to the Ol’Karrigh and their country—now called the Sunlands—that they would always have a home for which to fight. It was good, but it wasn’t enough, and she made up her mind to give them a secret power.
To do this, she asked a gift from Niamh and myself.
“I would bind you in stone, and you will serve the Drakha,” she said, rather cheerfully.
She bid us farewell on the night we would have breathed our last mortal breath, laid us in beds of mother of pearl and sang through the night, weaving shells around us. The egg that held Niamh she then ripened in her fire, that his brilliance could stand like the sun against cold darkness. My egg she handed to Nahk’tesh and bid him hold me deep in the depths of his pool where his liquid magenta flames perpetually burned, that I would be the living mirror to the empty lifelessness of Naught.
In time she took from our eggs a perfect smooth oval of amber and a jagged shard of obsidian and placed them in the keeping of a stone carver, Nat’Kori, a dragon of the Drakhonic line. Nat’Kori grew quite old before he worked us into our present forms. Every day for more than a hundred years he viewed us, held us, spoke to us, until one day he knew that if he was ever to complete our making before he died, he must begin. Day by day he chipped here and there, carving us into daggers, grinding our blades sharp. He slept one night and woke with a vision and, knowing he would be finished after this last task, he adorned our hilts with the twelve-rayed sun.
We came alive for him, and he smiled as he breathed his last.
Niamh is silent now, and lost perhaps.
But I am found and will be bonded, blood to light. I still sing, and my dark light shines.
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About the author:
Lou Hoffmann thinks of every individual as a uniquely faceted jewel, and she writes for readers of all ages and genders. She believes in love, believes in you, and believes in the magic of a good book.
Promotional post. Materials provided by the author.