Sword of Shadows
by Karin Rita Gastreich
GENRE: Dark Fantasy
Sisters in magic, Eolyn and Adiana seek to revive a millennial tradition once forbidden to women. When war strikes, their fledgling community of magas is destroyed; its members killed, captured or scattered.
Determined to defend her people, Eolyn seeks to escape the occupied province and deliver to King Akmael a weapon that might secure their victory. Trapped by the invading army, Adiana is taken prisoner and placed at the mercy of the ruthless Prince Mechnes.
Even as their world is torn asunder, Eolyn and Adiana cling to a common dream. Courage and perseverance guide them toward a future where the Daughters of Aithne will flourish in a world set free from the violence of men.
“War propels the story forward, and the characters are at their best when circumstances are at their worst.” -Publishers Weekly
This is the second book in THE SILVER WEB trilogy. It can be read as a stand-alone novel, or as the sequel to the first book, EOLYN.
A hush of wings on the windowsill interrupted Eolyn’s thoughts. She looked up to see a Great River Owl, its proud silhouette outlined by moonlight.
Eolyn rose to her feet in surprise, keenly aware of its penetrating gaze, though she could not see its round eyes in the dark. A breeze ruffled its feathers. Its aura was impossibly familiar: intense shades of gold, burgundy, and forest green, shot through with streaks of deepest indigo.
She held her breath and let it go in a whisper. “Akmael?”
More than a question, it was a hope, a fear, an invocation.
A shimmer passed through the owl, followed by a flash of white light. Suddenly Akmael was with her, the heat of his hand upon her throat, the strength of his fingers intertwining in her hair, the demand of his lips upon hers, warm and full of passion. The magic of the South Woods blew through the window in a humid gust, swirling about them, begging Eolyn to remember who she was and what she once meant to him.
Akmael kissed Eolyn until she had no more breath to give. Then he paused and held her close, their foreheads touching as her fingers traced the familiar prominence of his cheekbone, the line of his jaw, the curve of his full lips.
All she could hear was his desire, carried on the rhythm of his heart. She dared not speak, for if she did, she might stumble upon words of caution or prudence or common sense, and none of that had any place here. Not when he was so near, nearer than he had been in such a painfully long time, closer than he might ever be again.
This is a gift from the Gods, Akmael had once said. To deny it would be an insult to them.
She hushed him with a kiss.
Guest post – Character Interview
Love and Magic in the Highlands of Moehn
An exclusive interview with Maga Eolyn and Adiana of Selkynsen
By Medieval Times correspondent Ian McFae
A rough-hewn province, Moehn seems an unlikely setting for one of the kingdom’s most ambitious projects. Yet this is home to Moisehén’s first Aekelahr in generations, where women and girls work together to restore the long-lost magical traditions of Aithne and Caradoc.
The founder of the Aekelahr, Maga Eolyn, survived the purges and is hailed as the last Daughter of Aithne. Her companion, Adiana, is a musician from the province of Selkynsen. We sit together under a warm spring sun, next to the Aekelahr’s dense gardens. From here, I can see several small stone buildings: living quarters and stables, a herbarium and a library. A half-finished wall marks the perimeter of the complex. Given the peace of this place, one can hardly imagine the magas were ever the cause of so much strife.
MT: Thank you both for hosting me today. I’m going to start with a simple question: What is a maga?
Eolyn: A maga is a woman trained in a tradition of magic unique to Moisehén, first discovered in ancient times by Aithne and Caradoc. We seek to understand the natural world, the spirits of plants, animals, and rocks, and to use that understanding for the betterment of our people.
MT: Sounds noble. Yet not too long ago, the kingdom made a concerted effort to burn everyone who had learned this tradition.
Eolyn: When the magas rose up against King Akmael’s father, Kedehen, many people suffered on both sides of the conflict. Today, we are trying to put that past behind us and create a new future in magic, not only for the young women who have joined our Aekelahr, but for all of Moisehén.
MT: Tell me about the women who live here. How do you choose your students?
Eolyn: We accept anyone who comes willingly and demonstrates an aptitude for magic, as well as respect for the traditions and teachings of Aithne and Caradoc. Right now we are a small community: five young girls, Maga Renate, Adiana, and myself. But we hope to grow.
MT: What role do you have, Adiana? Why bring a musician to the Aekelahr?
Adiana: Aithne and Caradoc, who discovered magic, recognized music as a form of Primitive Magic, the most ancient and complex magic given to our people. It’s true I was never trained as a maga, but I know music, and I love teaching the girls. This is the one gift that I can offer in support of Eolyn’s effort.
MT: You left the cosmopolitan city of Selkynsen to settle in this remote and rather backward province. Do you ever miss your home?
Adiana: I miss the wine. There is no better wine than the wine of Selkynsen.
MT: But you don’t regret your choice?
Adiana: Not at all. This is the most wonderful community I’ve ever been a part of. We love each other and care for each other. The girls who study with us will one day be the most powerful women in the kingdom.
MT: It’s common knowledge this Aekelahr would not exist without the generous support of King Akmael. How did you convince the son of Kedehen to permit women to practice magic again, even finance this endeavor?
Eolyn: As children, King Akmael and I were brought together by unusual circumstances. That friendship allowed us to overcome our differences and establish peace in the wake of Kedehen’s reign.
MT: Friendship. A carefully chosen word. Some would call it love.
Adiana: Well he is in love with her. Madly. No doubt about it.
Eolyn: I cannot speak for the King’s heart, but I can assure you there is no romance between us.
MT: Yet there was romance at one time. Would you deny this?
Eolyn: If there was romance between us, it ended before King Akmael married Taesara of Roenfyn. We have not seen each other since.
MT: King Akmael and Queen Taesara are expected to arrive in Moehn soon as part of their summer progress. Any chance of old flames reigniting?
Eolyn: No. Absolutely not.
Adiana: I would say yes. Definitely. Yes.
Eolyn: Adiana, please.
Adiana: I mean, really. Look at her, Ian. What king wouldn’t be in love with this woman? She’s beautiful! And I know she still has feelings for him. You should see how obsessive she’s been with all the preparations. It’s driving the rest of us mad.
Eolyn: Perhaps this would be an appropriate moment to bring the interview to a close.
MT: As much as I’d like to delve deeper into this question, we are, I’m afraid, at the end of our time today. Thank you both! Readers of Medieval Times, I will be back in one week with full coverage of the King’s long-anticipated visit to the province of Moehn. Until then, this is Ian McFae signing off from the highlands of Moisehén and wishing you a most magical day.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Karin Rita Gastreich writes stories of ordinary women and the extraordinary paths they choose. She lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she is part of the biology faculty at Avila University. An ecologist by vocation, Karin has wandered forests and wildlands for over twenty years. Her past times include camping, hiking, music, and flamenco dance. In addition to THE SILVER WEB trilogy, Karin has published short stories in World Jumping, Zahir, Adventures for the Average Woman, and 69 Flavors of Paranoia. She is a recipient of the Spring 2011 Andrews Forest Writer’s Residency.
Purchase link for SWORD OF SHADOWS, Book Two of THE SILVER WEB: https://www.amazon.com/Sword-Shadows-Silver-Web-Book-ebook/dp/B01G5L1GEG/
Purchase link for EOLYN, Book One of THE SILVER WEB: http://www.amazon.com/Eolyn-Silver-Web-Book-1-ebook/dp/B01B8F4G50/
Karin will be awarding a $15 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.