Tuesday, March 9, 2010

EXCERPT and GIVEAWAY: The Battle Sylph by L.J. McDonald


ISBN 9780843963007
Series: The Sylph Series, Book 1
Genre: Paranormal Romance
(c) March 2010, Leisure Books, Dorchester Publishing

Buy Link (ebook): Barnes and Noble Ebook

Blurb (from author's website):

In a world where Elemental Sylphs are used for slave labour, Solie thought her biggest problem in life was avoiding an arranged marriage with an older man. That is, until she finds herself kidnapped for use as a human sacrifice in the luring and binding of a Battler, the most dangerous kind of Sylph there is. Terrified but determined not to die, Solie fights back and finds herself suddenly the master of an immensely powerful, shape-changing creature who can take on any form she wishes.

Heyou, however, isn't the only Battle Sylph around, and the two of them are forced to run, pursued by men determined to destroy them both. With no other options left to her, Solie flees with her newfound allies to the only source of sanctuary left to them, but death is tracking them down and Heyou is filling her with desires that threaten to change the world.

Excerpt:

They brought the sacrifice in before dawn, while the streets were mostly empty and the roads still dark. Only the castle and its inner environs were lit, the fire sylphs mostly concerned with keeping the buildings warm in the frigid winter air. Keeping the streets outside the walls lit was less important.

Devon watched them bring her in from where he stood on the ramparts of the castle, huddling in his cloak and waiting for the ship that was soon to arrive. At least, he assumed it was a sacrifice in the cart driven through the old back gate, three armed men sitting inside before something covered in canvas. Whatever it was, it moved. There had been whispers that another battle sylph was to be summoned. The prince was of age, and no simple sylph would ever be considered good enough for him.

Devon sighed, glad that his sylph at least hadn’t needed anyone to die before she could be bound to him. He could feel her, hovering incorporeal in the air around him, waiting as he did. When she wanted, she could take on solid shape, as all sylphs could, but she preferred to be invisible most of the time, dancing on the air that she could control. First summoned by his grandfather, she’d been passed down to him through his father for a gift of music, bound to him for the rest of his life. She didn’t mind. Devon felt her contentment in the back of his mind. It was said the men bound to battlers felt nothing but their sylphs’ hate. Certainly everyone near them felt it.

The breeze was cold, enough so for an autumn night make him think unhappily that soon it would be snow blowing across his body as he stood there, huddling deeper against the lee of the castle. “Hey, Airi,” he called, teeth chattering. “It’s freezing. Can you do something about the wind?”

Her presence grew closer, a face forming out of the air. It’s a big ship, she reminded him.

“I don’t think keeping me from freezing to death will use up too much of your energy,” he replied, and the wind stopped around him, the air not quite warm but not so bitterly cold anymore either. “Thank you.”

A silver laugh answered him, and Devon shook himself, straightening his cloak and looking up. Where they stood, there was a wide space a hundred feet across, easy for a ship to land on. Usually they docked during the day, but this wasn’t a standard trade ship. It was rumored it had been bait for pirates instead. Three ships these brigands had attacked so far, taking the cargo and releasing the crew, but the king wasn’t known for tolerating anything, and this latest craft had gone out armed with two battlers.

Whatever they’d found, they were on their way back now, damaged. Devon’s job was to use Airi to help Tempest, the ship’s official air sylph, land. His superiors hadn’t told him when the craft would be arriving, however, and he’d already been out half the night, waiting.

He wouldn’t complain, he admitted with a sigh. The same as he wouldn’t ask what had happened to damage the ship, or about that cart he’d seen. Air sylphs were easy enough to get, as were those of earth, fire, and water. Someone like him could be replaced if they started questioning too much, and it had happened before, especially when battlers were involved. They were rare. Fortunately. Devon didn’t like to think about what kind of damage even one could do.

Despite knowing better, and though he had just finished reminding himself how expendable he was, he looked back down over the ramparts at the cart now vanishing inside. A ship sent out for bait with two battlers on it? A sacrifice brought in to summon a new battler for the prince? That upset the normal world Devon was used to, where he didn’t have to worry about anything but his work and Airi. Devon was happy being an air-sylph master. He didn’t want to think about anything else. He felt sorry for the girl who was going to be killed, though.

“Do you sense Tempest yet?” he asked.

No.

Devon sighed, leaning back against the rampart again. At least he wasn’t cold anymore. He closed his eyes, trying to catch a bit of rest. Late night or not, he would still have a full day tomorrow. Airi would wake him if anyone came. Sylphs rarely slept.

They’re here.

Devon looked up. Enough time had passed while he dozed that dawn was starting to break, and on the skyline he could finally see a ship floating toward them. It was huge, its hull rounded on the sides like an ocean-going vessel, but the bottom was flat and the sails rigged to the sides. The only waves this ship sailed were those of the sylph who bore it. Tempest was a major sylph, one much more powerful than his little Airi. Devon was almost envious as he watched the thing glide silently in.

I’m just young, Airi told him, though she was almost a hundred years old. Sometimes that made him wonder just how old creatures like Tempest were, or how long Airi would live. He’d never asked her. In a lot of ways, Devon just didn’t want to know.

“I know,” he soothed, not wanting her upset. An upset sylph was nearly painful for its master. He didn’t know how the battlers’ masters handled it. “If you weren’t, we’d spend all our time on a ship.” He’d hardly see his father again.

The ship slowed to a stop overhead, and he felt Tempest’s winds beat harshly against him as Airi went to help her fellow sylph. Together, the two lowered the vessel toward the stones of the castle and lifted a ramp up to it.

As he walked forward, Devon noted that the ship’s sides had gaping holes and one of the sails was torn. It was no wonder extra help was wanted to land her. He looked at the burn marks and felt a cold that didn’t have anything to do with the weather. A man came down the newly set ramp, pulling his coat closed. In his wake stomped a behemoth in full armor, light gleaming out through the eyeholes of his helm. Recognizing both, Devon bowed deeply.

The man swept past without slowing. He was dressed like a dandy, his face pinched with pride, and he didn’t even see Devon: Jasar Doliard, a minor landowner and one of the courtiers in favor with the king and the council. Enough in favor at least to win himself a battle sylph, the second figure, who Devon hoped would ignore him as well. He wasn’t that lucky. Immediately, those glowing eyes within the helm locked on him. At least, it looked like a helm. It was very probable that the armor was physically a part of the battler and not separate at all. Devon could feel the hate rolling off the creature, yet Mace didn’t do anything, not without his master’s command. Mace usually didn’t do anything other than hate. He just stood near his master and looked impressive. It would have seemed a waste of a battler if the creatures weren’t so horrific when they did act.

Behind Jasar came the second battle-sylph master. He was a well-built blond man, though nowhere near the size of Mace, and his sylph did go into battle. Leon Petrule had been the king’s head of security and lead battler master for years. Leon’s battler took the form of a red-feathered hawk, perched on his shoulder, and Devon felt its hate as clearly as he had Mace’s.

Ril’s loathing was sharp, and the bird’s grip tightened on his master’s shoulder when he saw Devon, talons cutting into the leather. Devon bowed deeper, not wanting any attention. The only thing battlers knew how to do was hate. All they were good for was killing, and he was beyond grateful no one ever suggested he master one, though a man could only be master to a single sylph at a time, and the Chole family already had Airi to care for. Even if that weren’t so, he didn’t have the spirit for it. You had to have a certain hardness to your soul to hold one in thrall. Leon had it. For all his frilly clothes and brownnosing attitude, Jasar had it. Devon wondered if the king’s pansy son would, and found himself doubting it.

Airi flowed around him, taking shape as a whirlwind of leaves, when Leon, to Devon’s dismay, stopped before him. Ril shifted on Leon’s shoulder, looking at Airi out of one eye. Devon bowed again. “My lord.”

“You didn’t see anything tonight,” the king’s battler master told him. “Understood?”

Devon bowed even deeper. “Yes, my lord.” “Good.” The battler master continued on his way. Devon waited until he was gone before straightening. His hands were shaking. “Airi,” he managed. Her attention focused on him, a breeze in his mind. “Tell no one about tonight.”

There was no argument. That’s what it meant to be a master. She was beholden to him, unable to disobey. Should Devon and his father both die, she would return to the otherworld from which she came, never to return, unless he passed her on to a new master first. If Devon died before his father, Airi would return to the old man. She’d been his father’s and his late grandfather’s before him, and the old bonds still held, but Devon owned her loyalty now. She’d still obey any former master, though. Once someone owned her, they would always do so. Even the battlers followed that rule.

Devon shuddered, turning back to the ship to help unload as the crew started to emerge, but as he did, an explosion shocked him to his knees. Gasping, he scrambled to his feet and ran to the edge of the castle ramparts. Looking down, he saw a massive hole blown out of the side of the keep, near the base, and heard the cry of something inhuman. It was an outraged scream, like one he’d heard only once before, on a day that he still couldn’t forget in his dreams. A moment later, a winged cloud shape shot from the hole, wings stretching out as it angled upward. Devon gasped as he felt its hate.

The lightning-filled cloud flew up into the sky, already vanishing in the early-morning light. It was carrying something with long red hair and pale limbs, something that shrieked with fright and clung to it.

“Airi,” Devon gasped, not knowing what he was thinking or why he did so. “Follow them.”

In a moment his sylph was gone, chasing along after her quarry through the air currents. Devon stood alone on the ramparts, staring after the escaped pair and wondering how any girl could manage to handle a battler.

Review for The Battle Sylph

~ o ~

Because we here at The Raving Readers love this book so much, we're giving away one copy of The Battle Sylph to a lucky winner! What's more, Dorchester Publishing has offered five additional copies for giveaway, so there will be six (6) lucky winners instead! Yay! Thank you, Dorchester!

And there's no geographical restriction, so everyone who lives on planet Earth, even the penguins in Antarctica, is welcome to cast your name into the hat.

How to enter?

Today's question is: Which writing contest did L.J. McDonald enter the first three chapters of THE BATTLE SYLPH?

Hint: L.J. McDonald website

Extra chances to win:
+ 3 if you're a follower of this blog
+ 2 if you follow us on Facebook or Twitter
+ 2 if you take our poster (located on the right sidebar) about this contest and post it
           on your blog/website with a link back to us
+ 1 for every time you spread the word about this contest via Facebook, MySpace, Twitter,
           your blog, website or other form of social media. For example, you tweeted about
           this contest twice and also announced it on your Facebook. You also wrote a blog
           post. That's 4 additional chances! However, for these to qualify, be sure to come
           back here and post the links. Like, if you tweeted twice, give me both links.

If you do all of the above, at a minimum, that's 9 chances to win!

Contest ends on March 12 (Friday), 1159pm EST.

Winner will be picked via Randomizer.org and announced on March 13 (Saturday).

Good luck!

5 comments:

CallMeKayla said...

sounds cool!

+3 blog follower
+2 twitter follower
+2 FB follower

total= 7 entries

sexywomenread@yahoo.com

vslavetopassionv said...

Answer to today's question: Shomi Romantic Fantasy Novel Writing Contest

+3 if you're a follower of this blog

Jase
vslavetopassionv(at)aol(dot)com

ronsmysharona said...

Shomi Romantic Fantasy Novel Writing Contest is the answer to the question.

This sounds like an excellent read!! I can hardly wait. ;)

lill said...

I've been looking forward to this book!

Scorpio M. said...

Shomi Romantic Fantasy Novel Writing Contest.

I am really looking forward to this series!!

+3 Follower via Blogger
+2 FB & Twitter follower (@scorpio1m)

 

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