(The Courtlight Series #2)
Publication date: September 20, 2013
Companion trainee Ciardis Weathervane has won the friendship of the royal heir and saved his claim to the throne. Yet her interference in the inheritance rights leaves more harm done than good. With the death of the Princess Heir, the Ameles forest - the home of the kith, is dying.
The inhabitants of the forest, magic-wielding non-humans, are defiant. They have not forgotten their long struggles nor are they content to watch as the last of their lands perish. As humans begin to die in gruesome deaths, the Emperor dispatches the royal heir to the forests with the solution to the kith concerns.
With enemies closing ranks in Sandrin, Ciardis can little afford to leave the city’s nest of vipers to take on a new task. But she’s given no choice when her loyalty to the crown and courts are called into question.
To keep the Companions’ Guild happy and the favor of the Imperial Court, Ciardis will be tested in frightening new ways, especially when she’s faced with an obstacle that could risk the lives of her friends and the family she never thought she had.
This second novel continues the story of Ciardis Weathervane from Sworn To Raise.
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Available September 20th from Amazon, Barnes & Nobles + iTunes!
(The Courtlight Series #1)
Publication date: April 10, 2013
Seventeen-year-old Ciardis has grown up in poverty, a cleaner in a small vale on the outskirts of the empire. But beneath her empire’s seemingly idyllic surface lies a hidden secret. Whispers of an inept crown Prince are growing ever louder—intensified by the five year anniversary of the soulbond initiations.
Amidst scandalous whispers, Ciardis finds herself chosen to train for the Companion’s Guild. She leaves her home and sets off on a personal journey to become a Court Companion. A position she’d never thought possible for a lowly servant to obtain, she must prove that she has the skills to attract a Patron.
But she must master those skills quickly. If the legends are true, only Ciardis can harness the power to raise a Prince in an Imperial Court sworn to bring him down.
This sensational series debut melds intricate storylines with remarkable characters and unforgettable magic. Sworn To Raise is ideal for fans of Kristin Cashore, Michelle Sagara, and Maria Snyder.
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EXCERPT CHAPTER SEVEN of Sworn To Raise
"But before we do we need to be certain of your abilities, which is why we asked you to come today,” Damias said.
He stood and waved his hand at the doorway, as if inviting someone to come in. They all stood and watched as the double doors swung inward, revealing two armed men with swords strapped across their backs and small, covered cages in each hand.
Ciardis eyed the cages warily. This did not look like it was going to be a friendly and relaxed guidance session. The two men set down the cages at their feet, bowed, and retired to one side of the atrium.
Their group rose from the table and approached the four cages, Terris and Ciardis trailing behind the others uncertainly. Ciardis was sure from the look on Terris’s face that she had no idea what was going to happen either.
Damias stopped in front of the two cages on the left and turned to the group. He addressed Ciardis and Terris. "These are Rabiae, woodland creatures that eat and absorb magic."
Ciardis frowned; she had heard of the innocent-looking little beasts. They were favored hunting targets of the nobility who lived on estates near Vaneis. The nobles, many of them from the bloodlines of mages, had delighted in facing the magical threat of the Rabiae. They ran the little animals down on horseback and speared them. The problem was that once speared, the Rabiae emitted a foul purple stench that clung to clothes for days. Ciardis had spent many a day scrubbing fabric clean of the rank odor, which never deadened the olfactory sense as most bad smells did.
"The Rabiae are a byproduct of the Initiate Wars of over two centuries ago," Damias said. "They were designed by manipulative mages to appeal to children."
Vana and Serena shuddered delicately, and Vana said, "With those cute floppy ears and soft fur, many young mages come across them and keep them as pets. These ‘pets’ slowly steal every drop of power these children have. The mage children who retain them as pets then become mundane."
"It is for reasons like this that certain categories of mage work have been restricted, and must be approved by Imperial mandate before commencing," said Mary. "But the Rabiae have already been created, and are impossible to eradicate with magic. As such, we've done our best to make practical use of their kind."
"Today, you will each pick one up, but for no more than a few minutes. The Rabiae not only absorb magic; they also memorize which talent each person exhibits,” continued Damias, “Once collected, their memories of such characteristics were used by their masters to catalogue the bloodlines of mages that would useful." He snorted. "It was barbaric then, and it's barbaric now, to consider breeding in order to ensure a magical bloodline is produced."
Ciardis frowned, not because she disagreed, but because she was wondering, isn’t that what the nobles do, anyway? Only marry other nobles, just as mages only marry other mages?
Vana summoned the two trainers from their corners. The men wore tight leather jerkins, the hilts of their swords jutting upward. They looked powerful, like the mercenaries Ciardis had sometimes seen on the roads up north. Opening the cages, they dragged the Rabiae out by the nape of their neck. Ciardis couldn't help but think that the trainers looked like more force than was needed, even though she knew what the beasts were capable of. These two big, strapping men each held a Rabiae in one hand by the loose, soft skin at the nape of its neck. The Rabiae hung unresisting in their grip. Their soft thumper legs kicked lightly and their noses twitched, but they made no noise. Ciardis smiled grimly, thinking, No wonder children like them so much.
The men approached the two young women as the adults moved back into a half circle behind Terris and Ciardis. The two young women exchanged nervous glances and simultaneously reached forward for the bundles of gray fur.
Ten Things/Events That Influenced the Courtlight Series
1. Anastasia, Once Upon a December Reprise: The idea of a lost little girl becoming a young woman with an Imperial destiny was fascinating. While Ciardis and Anastasia have quite a few differences as time goes on you’ll see some startling similarities. You can see the video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NJz9gB1mT_4
2. Legends of Pegasus: There are magical, talking creatures with intelligent levels throughout my novels but among my favorites are the creatures that I call pegasi - winged horses used by Windriders to fly messages back and forth.
3. Finishing Schools: While not exactly the boarding school of my dreams, finishing schools have a specific purpose in mind - crafting and instilling skills in a person. It’s an interesting concept that I thought would be fun to have a character turn on its head.
4. A Strong Will: I don’t like any of my characters to be pushovers and I particularly wanted Ciardis to blossom into her own person and her own mage. Characterizing her as a dominate personality hasn’t come naturally yet but she is finding her place in the world. And that’s a portion of real life. You make your own choices to grow and learn.
5. The Court of Louis XVI: If you haven’t read To Dance With Kings by Rosalind Laker, an amazing historical fiction tale of seamstresses who become courtesans in the Sun King’s court, then you should! The pageantry and gaiety of life under a King like Louis XVI really influenced my perception of life in Sandrin.
6. Warrior Queens: Historically there have been some badass reigning monarchs of the female gender. Some have gone to war, some have started empires and others have nurtured generations. Women like Cleopatra of Egypt, Elizabeth II of England, Isabella of France, and Seondeok of Silla (Korea). When I write my main characters I keep their ingenuity, fearlessness and inspiring reigns in mind.
7. Inspiring Women like Amelia Earhart, Princess Diana, Gertrude Bell: Many times my writing is about exploring the world around you and adventuring out of your comfort zone. These women, and many more like them, were adventurers, pioneers, and leaders in their communities. I wanted my main character to share some of that heroism, that spark, that kindness and that ingenuity.
8. The Pony Express: Weird, right? But it totally makes sense! I borrowed the idea of the Windriders from the original postal delivery service that brought mail and packages across the continental U.S. in the fastest time available during the 1800s.
9. Archery Lessons: I took archery lessons and horseback riding lessons as a kid. I was middling to fair at it. So I thought I’d pass my calluses and misery on to Ciardis Weathervane as well. Besides she needs them where she’s going.
10. Romantic Comedies ala The Princess Diaries: I learned so much about writing from watching rom coms. They have to be fast-paced and innovative while keeping an audience riveted with drama as well as laugh out loud funny. What’s not to love?