Happy Wednesday Scribblers. Today I’m excited to share a new book with you. The book comes from fellow author and writing buddy Barbara Russell. I’ve had the pleasure and reading several of Barabar’s books and could not recommend A Knight in Distress more highly. I plan on having Barbara over for a chat, but I wanted to provide you with this announcement today. Even though I’m not including a review at this time I’ve read the novel and A knight in Distress is amazing and is a total must buy.
Knights are supposed to rescue damsels. That’s the natural order. So when seventeen-year-old Nathair, a Briton knight in training, finds himself rescued by the princess he should have saved, he’s annoyed.
By saving Princess Bryhannon from the warlord Torgall, Nathair hoped that his dreams of becoming a knight, paying off his family’s debts, and overcoming the stigma of his russet skin would come true. Now that he’s failed, he must find another way to fulfil his desires.
Bryhannon is a Morrigan: a witch blessed with the power of the raven goddesses of war. To Bryhannon, it feels more like a curse. With magic this strong, she has a difficult time hiding her abilities. If the wizards discover who she is, they’ll kill her for women are forbidden to use magic or weapons, and she is good at both. Her only hope is to find the Rache: a magical artefact, which will gain her the protection of the infamous Raven Coven of Tintagel.
While in Torgall’s land, Nathair and Bryhannon discover his plan. Torgall wants to steal the animax—the fuel powering the automatons that have replaced the round table knights of New Camelot—and sell it to the enemy.
Before Bryhannon can seek safety in the Raven Coven, and Nathair can prove he deserves to be a knight, they must prevent Torgall from stealing the animax, or the enemy will use the animax to fuel an army of clockwork knights ready to invade the land of the Britons.
Where to Buy:
Amazon – Click here
Champagne Book Group – Click here
Nathair hadn’t planned to end his last day at Sir Lancelot’s Academy for Knights getting caught cheating on his final examination. Especially since the cheating had been a misunderstanding. The incriminating piece of parchment was still in his best friend’s extended hand. General Baldwin loomed over Nathair in his emerald uniform, one eyebrow arched in disappointment.
“Sir, I wasn’t—” Nathair started, standing at his desk.
“Don’t even try, Locksbay.” General Baldwin held up a hand to silence him. “The situation is clear enough. I’ve caught your friend Tristan red-handed passing you that piece of paper with the correct Numeracy answers. Cheating is not only against the academy rules, but the Knights’ Honor Code as well.”
Ouch. That hurts. Nathair wasn’t a cheater. He was an average student maybe, but never a cheater. He bit down the remark and ignored his fellow cadets whispering and giggling behind his back. They leaned forward on their wooden desks, heads turning from him to the general like in a game of stool-ball. Many cadets would enjoy seeing the only russet-skinned boy at the academy being publicly scolded.
Tristan of Greystone stood and bowed to the general. His blond hair swished about his shoulders. “General Baldwin, it’s my fault. It was my idea to help Nathair. I knew he needed help with Numeracy, and I thought to pass him the answers. He didn’t ask me anything.”
That was true, and swyve. Tristan excelled at many things—he was the academy’s top cadet—but persuading people was his most honed skill. His confident tone, reassuring smile, and bright blue eyes could soothe the most inveterate criminal into turning himself in.
General Baldwin waved a dismissive hand. “You can sit down, Greystone, and keep going with your examination, but I’ll take fifty points off your final score for breaking the rules.”
Tristan did as told, casting an apologetic glance at Nathair.
General Baldwin took Nathair’s test and scanned it. “Let’s see why you wanted Greystone’s intervention.”
When his gray eyebrows shot up, Nathair smelled trouble. He didn’t need the mind-reading power of the mind-wrens to guess what the general was thinking. The bell echoed in the high-vaulted ceiling of the
Training Hall, and Nathair exhaled. Chairs scraped back against the wooden floor.
Now he was done for.
“Locksbay,” General Baldwin’s voice sounded stern, “…follow me to my office.”
“Of course, sir.” He collected his quill, parchments, and ink bottle and stuffed them in his bag.
“Sorry,” Tristan whispered. “I’ll wait for you here.”
With heavy feet, Nathair followed the man who might expel him. He swallowed hard, thinking about his mentor. What would Ewhen say when he heard about this? Nathair shuffled behind the general along the Champions’ Corridor lined with famous knights’ suits of armor. They headed to the eastern tower of the castle toward the mechanical winch.
Before entering the narrow cabin that would lift him up to the third floor, Nathair hesitated. Traveling suspended by an iron cable wasn’t his idea of a safe trip. In comparison, the clockwork stairs, despite the grinding noise of the steps winding up, seemed safer. Nathair stepped inside the cabin and shoved his hands in his blue cloak pockets, while the winch coiled up with a grinding of metal against stone. From a gap between two metal plates, he caught a glimpse of rotating wheels and pumping pistons.
Once at the landing, Nathair trudged toward General Baldwin’s office. The oak door closed behind them with a thud. The room had four floor-to-ceiling windows, a high-vaulted ceiling, and a fireplace that resembled a dragon’s open jaw. Despite the size of the room, Nathair’s chest constricted. He breathed in the familiar smell. The musty scent of old parchments mingled with that of the armchairs’ worn leather.
“Sit.” General Baldwin sat on his throne-like chair.
Nathair groaned and dropped down onto one of the stuffed chairs. No chance this would be quick.
General Baldwin scanned Nathair’s test, his eyes darting up and down. “You have twenty-five points. It’s not good enough, but it’s not an excuse to cheat either.”
He didn’t reply. He’d rather take the blame than involve Tristan. Besides, telling the truth wouldn’t change his score.
General Baldwin drummed his fingers on the desk. “What happened? You were a good student. Not the finest, but decent. This,” he gestured at the paper, “is not what I’d have expected from you, and I’m not talking about today’s examination.” He opened a drawer and pulled out a leather folder fat with parchments. He unfastened the string and spread them out.
Nathair gripped the armrests.
“I had a look at your tests and assignments, and I’m very disappointed.” General Baldwin flipped through the stack of papers. “In your last Wildlife and Wild-flora test you scored an Insufficient, same thing with Music and Courteous Conversation.”
He shook his head. A sickening lump crawled into his stomach. Please, anything but Poetry.
“For example, Poetry.” As General Baldwin read, his frown deepened. “Dame Puddifoot wrote only one word about your poetic skills: hopeless. What is your obsession with cats? Cats are all over your poems. You must love them.”
Hardly. Cat rhymed with everything: fat, hat, sat, bat, mat—the possibilities were endless.
“And I see no extracurricular skills or activities.” He stared at Nathair.
He wiped his hands on the trousers of his uniform and pulled back a curled strand of his chestnut hair. Call it a hunch but breaking into Lady Guinevere’s Damsels Academy using nothing but two knives probably wasn’t an extracurricular skill the general would be interested in, but then someone had to release those greasy pigs into Lady Guinevere’s dormitory. Last week, the ladies had filled the cadets’ quivers with honey. It was only sensible that the cadets returned the favor, and Tristan needed help to sneak into the rooms of his many girlfriends.
About Barbara Russell:
I’m an entomologist and a soil biologist, which is a fancy way to say that I dig in the dirt, looking for bugs. Nature and books have always been my passion. I was a kid when I read Ivanhoe by Sir W. Scott and fell in love with medieval novels. Then I discovered medieval fantasy, and I fell in love again. In fact, I took it too seriously and believed that my elderly, bearded neighbor was Merlin and his black cat was Morgan le Fey. When I read Harry Potter and learned about Animagi, I knew I was right. Then I grew up and… nah, I’m joking. I didn’t grow up. Don’t grow up, folks! It’s a trap.
PS I hate gardening. There, I said it. Sorry fellow Kiwis.
Where to find Barbara:
Find her on Twitter here.
Find her website here.
Find her blog here.
Find her on Amazon here.