THE WARDER by Susie Williamson (EXCERPT)
Today, we’re thrilled to bring an excerpt of Susie Williamson’s The Warder, her exciting sequel to Return of the Mantra.
Blood Gift Chronicles is character-driven, epic fantasy encompassing themes of wildlife and the environment, social justice and exploitation, animism, magic, dragons and being true to one’s self.
Return of the Mantra (Blood Gift Chronicles #1) What if everything you’re taught to hope for depends on you? In a land ravaged by drought and greed, where the gifts are forbidden and the old ways outlawed, Suni, a young woman, searches for justice and her own identity.
The Warder (Blood Gift Chronicles #2) is the sequel and also works as a standalone. The story is ten years on from the first book, and is told by three characters, who each have unique gifts that connect them to the land and each other.
What would you sacrifice for the ones you love? In a land of gifts and curses, is anything what it seems to be?
The King has been defeated and the spirit of the Mantra has been restored, Suni has been reunited with her father and all is – not quite right.
Wanda and his cousin Luna live in the valley beyond the mountains: Luna is possessed and dreams of dragons while Wanda, gifted with the ability to communicate with animals, struggles with the curse of Orag. Ntombi blames Wanda for her daughter Luna’s condition.
Meanwhile, in the town by the sea, Suni fears for Wanda, and watches over him using her gift for dreamwalking. Many, including Suni’s father, suffer from a strange affliction and the townspeople are blaming the Mantra.
Then strangers arrive from the sea bringing hope for the town: but in this land of gifts and curses, is anything what it seems to be?
The Warder is available now from Stairwell Books and the following places:
You can find out more about Susie from:
Chapter 1. Luna
I HAD NO MEMORY OF getting to the mountains, yet I found myself standing on the flat-topped summit. A distant screech pierced the skies. I looked up and saw the dragon of my nightmares flying like an arrow towards me.
Was I dreaming? I had never dreamt of the mountains before. My dreams were of the forest, keeping to the cover of trees as the dragon searched from above the canopy. I should have run but here, out in the open, there was nowhere to hide. I felt my heart thumping in my chest as I stepped back.
That was the moment I broke, the moment I realised I had stepped outside my own body.
Bewildered, I looked at my ten-year-old self: I held up my hands, tried to pat my arms, but I had no more form than a ghost. I parted my lips and mouthed the word, how, but the silent part of me had no sound. I moved in front of the girl for a closer look. There was terror on her face, her hands were clenched into fists, as she stood frozen staring up at the sky.
The girl gripped the shawl tight around her shoulders as the dragon descended, its beating wings stirring a cold wind. I stepped to the side, standing next to the girl, watching the dragon’s awkward landing, the ground trembling beneath the weight of its massive bulk. Its flight appeared effortless, but on land it stumbled. Its leathery wings, webbed like a bat’s, stepped forward in turn, the clawed digit at the end of each bony forearm stabbing the ground. The barbed tail swung from side to side as it dragged behind. Its long neck swept low to the ground, reaching its angular, grey head towards the girl. We looked into the cold stare of its silvery blue eyes, and saw the vertical slit pupils widen into circles. Gazing into these dark pools they appeared to come alive, swirling like liquid, slowly forming a distant image. As the image became clearer for both parts of us to see, I realised that it was a scaled down version of my reflection.
Wisps of smoke from the dragon’s flared nostrils reeked like charred meat, as it breathed, as though smelling the girl. Then it swung its neck to the side and up, lifting its head high and back as it opened its jaws, exposing yellowed fangs. The screeching roar came first, followed by its fiery breath streaming down. Surrounded by flames, I heard the girl’s screams and watched her writhe in pain. I grabbed her arms, wanting to drag her away. For a brief moment her skin was all I could feel, then came the searing heat of the fire and the realisation I was back in my own body, holding up my arm in a futile attempt to shield my face.
Something grabbed my shoulders from behind and swung me round. Still burning, I kicked and screamed, trying to pull away from the man I called my father.
‘Dragon fire!’ I yelled, as he picked me up and held me close. I pummelled my fists against his chest, but he just looked at me bewildered.
My face was still burning but I saw no fire. I turned to see the dragon was gone.