S. J. Rapala, Broken Worlds
Publisher: White Bird Publications, LLC
Date: Nov. 28 2017
Length: 309 pp
Book I: Rise of the Dragon Riders
Three days during which Caitrin had not slept an hour. Three days during which her heart threatened to burst out of her chest, such was the grief and the fear that Dominic Lightborn may never return. Three days during which everyone in Kinsborough looked out to the east where they were last seen going, a small party of Slayers spotted from afar by one of the town’s sentries at dusk.
They returned on the third, tired and hungry, but beaming with confidence and jovial laughter. They returned in tattered clothes and covered in the black blood of their enemies, and with stories to tell. Caitrin retreated into her house when they entered the town amidst cheers and hoots. Tears pressed against her eyes and she had to let them flow free; tears of joy and relief. She did not want others to see, especially Dominic. Not yet.
Some in Kinsborough were angry, though, more than relieved.
The small party of Rooks was met mid-way to the War House by another group of young men: the Hounds of K’Aldahar. Christian Llywelyn, Hound Captain, blocked their path with a couple of other members of his Brigade: Eadwolf Cadwalader and Cola Kendrick.
“Out of our way, Christian,” Winfrid said threateningly, but he stopped nonetheless, reluctant to put his hands on the son of Adrian Llywelyn, the Slayers’ Commander.
“We’re tired and hungry, Christian, move off,” Godric added, but he too, halted. Dominic and the others stopped, too, while all around them a crowd grew in anticipation of an imminent conflict. There was no love lost between the Hounds and the Rooks; even among the Slayers, there were factions.
“Bloody heroes, ain’t ya?” the Hound Captain sneered, his voice an angry hiss. “Bloody heroes, coming down and visiting us ordinary types.”
“What’s your problem, Christian?” Godric asked.
“You’re my problem,” Llywelyn quipped. “All of you’s, all of you’s are my problem.”
He was a tall young man with blonde hair shaved short in the back and the sides, but long on the top from where it spilled into his face. A hooked nose and beady eyes gave him a brutish and unpleasant appearance. Still, he was an accomplished Slayer and groomed to be the next Commander to succeed his father, should anything happen to him. He was renowned for his cleverness and ruthlessness in battle, but few trusted him. His features were devious, and even in his gait, Christian was sly; there was something uncanny about him, and only the Hounds truly followed him. He was their highest-ranking Captain, and he had led them through many fights, battles, and skirmishes. Cola Kendrick and Eadwolf Cadwalader were his most trusted companions, and the three were never far from each other.
“All right,” Godric shrugged. “I’ll bite. What do you want?”
“I wanna know where ya’ll been the last couple of days?” Christian smirked unpleasantly as he approached the Jernigan twins.
“Had a run in with a couple of goblins,” Godric replied matter-of-factly. “We sorted that out and then laid low for a few days, wanted to make sure they were alone.”
“A run-in, eh?” The Hound swayed his head from side to side, inches away from the Rook’s face. “Rumor is, ya’ll sniffed them out in the mountains and went after them without telling nobody.”
“Rumor is you almost brought Devadas into Kinsborough,” Cola Kendrick added.
“It’s sorted out,” Winfried interjected. “What do you know of it, anyway?”
“We have a seer in town, don’t you know that?” Christian snickered. “Turns out he gets all chatty after a couple of pints. Who would have guessed?”
“You had Dunstin Yates use his spy skills on us?” Cerdic Pryce stepped forward, his face flushed with anger.
“What’s the point of having a seer in town, if you ain’t gonna use him?”
“Point is, it’s all sorted out,” Godric repeated after his brother. “We covered our tracks and hid out in the hills for a while, made sure we weren’t being followed.”
“Point is, you’re reckless,” Christian retorted. “Maybe next time, you ain’t gonna be so clever and ya’ll gonna bring Devadas in here. Or something else, something worse.”
The Dragon Well
“Let us through, Christian,” Eadric Davies said. “We’re tired and hungry; we haven’t slept in days. We’re all on the same side here; we’re all Slayers.”
“That ain’t right, you see?” the Hound shook his head. “You’re a Slayer. I’m a Slayer. My mates here and your mates are Slayers. But he,” Christian pointed at Dominic, “ain’t no way he’s a Slayer.”
Lightborn flushed when he heard the accusation. He stepped in front of the Jernigan twins and faced Christian Llywelyn, just like he would any bully on a schoolyard.
“You wanna say that to my face, hombre?” he taunted angrily. “I may not have slept in three days, but I’ll take you on anytime.”
The Hound laughed and turned around, his arms open, as he addressed the crowd that had surrounded them.
“Ya’ll see? He ain’t one of us. He don’t even speak our language right.”
Christian turned back to Dominic and slowly drew his sword out.
“Careful, Llywelyn,” Godric warned him. “You may not see it that way, but Lightborn is one of us, one of the Rooks. He’s a Slayer, Eadmund Pritchard can attest to that as well.”
“You draw a sword against one Rook, and you draw it against us all,” Cerdic Pryce added, his voice grim.
“What, this old thing?” Christian sneered as he flashed the sword in front of them. “This ain’t no sword. It’s a measuring stick. Wanna see if you can measure up to this, eh? Whadda say, Lightborn?” he moved in closer. “Wanna dance, boy?”
About the Book
Rise of the Dragon Riders is the first book in the Broken Worlds series, which begins the story of two young brothers, Jake and Dominic Sinclair, whose already complicated relationship takes on new dimensions when they discover they are prophesized to overthrow a cruel god-tyrant in the parallel world of Antalea.
Transported and separated through circumstance, each boy pledges allegiance to a different group of the tyrant’s enemies and, in this new and magical world, each achieves great status in their respective setting. Jake becomes a leader and a scholar among the Dragon Riders; and Dominic, a respected warrior and, eventually, a great general of the Dragon Slayers. Will they find each other and if so, will their already strained relationship have them even more at odds?
Copyright © 2017 by S. J. Rapala