HALL OF BONES by Tim Hardie (EXCERPT)
As a fan of anything Norse inspired, I’m excited to share an excerpt of Hall of Bones, The Brotherhood of the Eagle Book 1, by Tim Hardie with you. It wasn’t just the amazing cover that peaked my interest, the synopsis and excerpt sound amazing too! Check it out!
“In the remote land of Laskar the seven ruling clans have vied with each other for power for over a century. The son of the Reavesburg Clan Chief, Rothgar, has been groomed all his life for a role supporting his elder brother, Jorik, in leading their kingdom when their father’s time finally comes to an end.
However, the rulers of their greatest rivals, the Vorund Clan, are in the grip of something older and far darker. They have been conquered by evil, a remnant from the time when the gods warred with one another and the world of Amuran collapsed into the Fallen Age.
Everything is about to change …
The first book in The Brotherhood of the Eagle series, Hall of Bones begins a tale of epic fantasy, magic and intrigue.”
ASIN : B08NXZX6CZ
Publisher : TJH Publications UK (November 25, 2020)
Publication date : November 25, 2020
Language : English
Print length : 426 pages
Page numbers source ISBN : 1838182411
This novel is available on Amazon Kindle Unlimited and for purchase in Paperback and Kindle edition.
The chain above me creaks in the wind, rattling as it twists this way and that. I must have slept a little since being forced into the cage. Now the cold has woken me. It’s dark, with dawn still some time away. I close my eyes, trying to find rest, although my ravaged body offers me no respite from my wounds. I know that when sleep comes it will be long and black, for my time in Amuran is almost done. Tears course unbidden down my cracked and raw face, as I find myself imagining Desta’s arms around me one last time. Would that I could return to the time when I was a child, when life was more carefree. Yet Dinas marks the endless flow of the river of time and its current ceaselessly travels one way, bringing us all to Navan at the end of our allotted span. I have wondered many times in recent days what I will find when Navan greets me at the Halls of the Dead. How will my life be judged? Better than my death, I hope; one only reserved for traitors and kinslayers.
There is a scratching against the bars of the cage, accompanied by the flapping of wings as the crows squabble over the best perch from which to peck at my flesh. The constant agony is so much part of my identity I’m unaware of the sharp pain as their beaks worry at my ragged and torn flesh. Soon it will be over, I tell myself. Soon. Please. It’s odd to think that for so many years I was happy here as I grew up in my father’s care. Ulfkell’s Keep was my family home and I try to remember those times, long before the Great Hall ran red with blood.
“No, I’m not, Rothgar. Halfhand’s even tougher than old Etta. Look,” my elder brother Jorik boasted, lifting his white linen shirt to show me his back. Sure enough there were bruises there, already purpling. I stared at the welts, a mixture of awe and envy gnawing the pit of my stomach. “We used real axes, I’m telling you,” he continued grimly as he put his clothes back in place. “You’ll have to grow some muscles if you’re going to survive your first lesson with the weapons master.”
“Then why did he hit you on the back? Were you running away?”
“Why you …”
Jorik was right; I was far smaller but also quicker and nimbler, dodging his grasp and darting off, running past the feasting table of the Great Hall. Jorik was after me in a second, easily gaining with his longer legs. I looked back, laughing, and ran straight into something solid, sending me crashing to the ground. Kolfinnar Marlson, chief of the Reavesburg Clan, regarded me from a great height as Jorik skidded to a halt behind me.
“My boys,” he cried warmly as if this scene were nothing out of the ordinary, which was true enough. “Dust yourselves off and take your places at the table. We play host to Gautarr and his son this evening.” My father was a powerful physical presence, despite being well into his forties. Barrel-chested and broad-shouldered he was a head taller than most of the men of Reavesburg. Even at fourteen it was obvious Jorik had inherited our father’s physique. I took after Mother’s slenderer frame. I had high hopes that after a few more feasts I would soon catch up.
We took our places near the head of the feasting table. The seats to the left and right of my father were reserved for those of significant rank, though I noted that my little sister, Nuna, with her golden locks and winning white-toothed smile, soon inveigled herself onto my father’s lap. With the death of our mother, Father had a special place in his heart for his seven-year-old daughter. My mother died bringing her into this world and Father cherished Nuna all the more because of that, rather than dwelling on bitterness. Everyone loved Nuna. She had a way of brightening a room with her presence. As the honoured guest and one of Father’s jarls, Gautarr Falrufson of Romsdahl sat in the place of honour at my father’s right hand side. A few years older than his host, even the massive grizzled warrior was not immune to Nuna’s charms, a broad smile spreading across his face as she fed him sweetmeats from her plate. Gautarr’s son, Ragnar, a serious young dark-haired man, seemed less enthused, regarding everyone at the table with a suspicious frown. Gautarr’s men at Romsdahl defended the southern border of our lands against the Vorund Clan and were held in high regard by our people.
It was a grand occasion and I noted that even Etta, my aged tutor and Father’s counsellor, had been persuaded out of her chambers to attend. Olfridor Halfhand clapped Jorik on the back, congratulating him on his latest lesson, oblivious to how this made him wince. As the evening wore on I’m sure my father and Gautarr discussed some significant matters of state. I paid little attention as I crammed my face with fresh bread, boiled pork, salted cheese, smoked fish and pastries. By the end I was too full to move, convinced that by morning I would have grown an inch taller. I was sleepy too, although I had no intention of retiring. Not until Darri, the resident bard of Ulfkell’s Keep, had performed for us.
Darri entered the Great Hall with a flourish, settling the noisy crowd with a haunting melody on his lyre. As his audience stilled, he took his usual place by the fire and began with a song about Reave. Always a popular subject, the young bard soon had us all singing along as he recounted the great journey of the clans to escape the ravages of war and find a new life in the harsh lands of the north. Some of the older warriors wept, including Olfridor, as he took us on that long and tragic journey with Reave. It was hard to believe my father now sat in the same chair Reave once occupied one hundred and fifty years ago. In moments, however, Darri altered the sombre and reflective mood, striking up some rousing chords on his lyre before leading the guests in a series of riotous drinking songs. Jorik told me some of them were about ladies and should never, ever be repeated in front of Nuna (who had long since been taken, protesting loudly, to her bed). I nodded solemnly, although at ten I had only the vaguest idea what they meant.
All too soon Finnvidor’s gentle hand was resting on my shoulder. The commander of Reavesburg’s warriors and jarl of Ulfkell’s Keep, Finnvidor Einarrson was of an age with my father. Whilst his chief had broadened with the years Finnvidor remained lean and fit and no one could match him with a sword. He was reputed to be a fearsome warrior, although his quiet calm authority drew the respect of his men.
“Come, young master. It’s time you were abed.” Finnvidor must have seen me get ready to protest as he carefully steered me from the hall. “Your mother would never have permitted you to stay awake until this hour, Rothgar, I can assure you of that.”
By all accounts my mother had doted on me and my brother. As she died when I was three years old I had only the haziest of memories of her, so Jorik used to tell me how she would play with us and recounted the songs she used to sing. My earliest memory was her funeral, my father’s face a stone mask as he stood before her pyre. Just seven years old, Jorik was crying freely beside me as he held my hand. I remember watching as the flames took hold whilst my father spoke of her lovingly to the assembled throng of mourners, representing every important family of the Reavesburg Clan. He seemed assured that, when the time of judgement came, the Creator would weigh her life and consider her to be worthy; since she was my mother and I was only three I knew my father must be right. I imagined the sparks rising from the pyre were fragments of her soul, bound for Navan’s Halls. As dusk crept across the sky each one was carried upwards into the heavens by the wind in a gently ascending whirlpool, dancing before my eyes until their red glow vanished. And still Jorik cried at my side, tightly clutching my hand, as if fearful I too would otherwise vanish.
“You’re quiet, young man,” Finnvidor observed as we wended our way slowly through the dark corridors of the keep, the sounds of drunken revelry fading behind us into the night.
“I was thinking of my mother,” I said simply.
“Alaine was a beautiful woman.” Finnvidor’s voice in the darkness sounded as sad as I felt. “Your sister is the image of her, you know.”
“So people say,” I replied, suddenly keen to change the subject. Finnvidor was a warrior and I didn’t want him to see me cry; I was the chief’s son and it was my duty to be strong. Finnvidor sensed my discomfort, saying no more, leaving me to my thoughts as he escorted me in silence the remaining way to my chambers.