I'm happy to have Karin Gastreich return to share a wonderful guest post about the romantic knights and mages in High Maga. Be sure to check out her release, now in audiobook format, and also the great giveaway at the end of this post.
Swords and Staves: the Romantic Leads of HIGH MAGA
By Karin Gastreich
When the going gets rough, who would you prefer to have at your side: a brave knight or a skilled mage?
In High Maga, Eolyn has both, and then some!
When the Syrnte army invadesMoehn and destroysEolyn’s home, she finds herself alone in the highlands with loyal Sir Borten andcunning Mage Corey.Both were sent by Eolyn’s old flame, King Akmael, who is a mage and a warrior.
The alliance between Eolyn, Borten, and Corey is a fragile one. Eolyn has reason to distrust both men, and Borten and Corey have no fondness for each other. As if this weren't enough, the Gods weave their mischievous magic with all of them, striking sparks of attraction in unbidden moments.And of course, there is the memory of Eolyn’s romance with Akmael that continues to haunt her heart.
Read more about Akmael, Borten, and Corey below, and tell me: Who would you choose for the keeper of your heart, if you were in Eolyn’s shoes? Inquiring minds want to know!
Akmael, King of Moisehén
No list of suitors is complete without Eolyn’s first and perhaps most enduring love, Akmael. Eolyn and Akmael met as children near her home in the South Woods. They found an immediate bond in their enthusiasm for magic. That bond grew into friendship, attraction, and on the cusp of adulthood, love. For reasons developed in my first novel,Eolyn, fate and duty force them down separate paths, Akmael to rule over his people, and Eolyn to take on the arduous task of reconstructing women’s magic.
Akmael is part of a long line of kings that dates back to the very first warrior chief of Moisehén, a man called Vortingen. According to legend, Vortingen led the war against the People of Thunder, who sought to destroy the followers of Dragon. As a reward for his service and victory, Dragon entrusted Vortingen and all his descendants with protecting Moisehén.
Akmael carries a deep sense of responsibility toward the crown and his people. He wants very much to be a good king, and to rise above the legacy of violence and oppression that marked his father’s reign. Yet his are a restless people, and it is no easy task to make them live in peace. Akmael is also tormented by an unquenchable desire for Eolyn, made more painful by the fact that he is bound in a loveless political marriage with a princess from a neighboring realm.
When the Syrnte invade Moisehén, Akmael must balance the need to mobilize his army with a deep personal concern regarding the fate ofEolyn, who is caught behind enemy lines. As much as Akmaelwants to attend personally to the search for Eolyn, a much larger duty calls. So he sends Sir Borten and Mage Corey in his stead, and prays that the Gods keep them all safe.
In my first novel,Borten appears briefly. Early in his reign, Akmael pardons Borten for a transgression that should have cost the knight’s life. In return, Borten submits to his king with unfailing loyalty and becomes one of Akmael's most trusted servants.
Like Eolyn, Bortenis from the isolated province of Moehn. It is partly for this reason that Akmaelappoints him toEolyn's guard. Though Borten has blood ties to the impoverished nobility of Moehn, his family is of low rank. This allows Corey to refer to him disparagingly as a "peasant knight", a habit that does little to encourage Borten’s friendship.
Even as I wrote the opening chapters of High Maga, I did not anticipate the importance Borten would assume in Eolyn’s journey. Indeed, I had few plans for him beyond wielding a sword in the Eolyn's defense. Then one day, one of my critique partners said to me, "You should giveBorten a crush on Eolyn."So I did. That's when Sir Borten's story became very interesting.
Borten’s affection for Eolyn is steady and true. He shares her love for the wild landscapes of Moehn, and he has a deep admiration for her work in women’s magic. However, the knight also harbors a dark secret about the past, a painful truth that if revealed, could unravel the very foundation of their friendship.
Mage Corey of East Selen
Corey was born to a family of magas and mages that ruled the eastern province of Moisehén. One night when he was still a boy, his clan was massacred by Akmael’s father,Kedehen. Corey escaped thanks to the intervention of his cousin Briana, who was captured by Kedehen and made queen.
At once prisoner and adopted son of the royal family, Mage Corey struggles with conflicting motivations. On the one hand, he desires vengeance for the obliteration of his clan. On the other hand, he is bound by loyalty to the few individuals who still share his bloodline, among them Briana’s and Kedehen’s only son, Akmael.
Corey and Eolyn first meet under the auspices of his Circle, a travelling show that brings the illusion of magic to the people of Moisehén. The mage recognizes Eolyn’s importance early on, but much time will pass before Eolyn fully understands the true extent of Corey’s power, and what his influence and ambitions will eventually mean for her.
The chemistry between Eolyn and Corey crackles with tension. Their relationship is one of constant disagreement, wary admiration, and latent attraction. Although Corey might be considered a minor character, his fate is tightly intertwined with Eolyn's. The final outcome of the saga, to be revealed in the third book Daughter of Aithne, will depend crucially on the resilience of this besieged friendship.
HIGH MAGA [audio edition]
Karin Rita Gastreich (author)
Darla Middlebrook (narrator)
Sisters in magic, Eolyn and Adiana seek to revive a craft once forbidden to women. When war strikes at the heart of the kingdom, their fledgling community of magas is destroyed; its members killed, captured or scattered.
In hopes of defending her people, Eolyn tries to escape the occupied province and deliver to King Akmael a weapon that might secure their victory. Trapped by the invading army, Adiana is taken prisoner and placed at the mercy of the ruthless Prince Mechnes.
Even as their world is torn asunder, Eolyn and Adiana cling to a common dream. Courage and perseverance guide them toward a future where the Daughters of Aithne will flourish in a world set free from the violence of men.
“War propels the book forward, and the characters are at their best when the events engulfing them are at their worst.” –Publishers Weekly
About the Author:
KARIN RITA GASTREICH writes tales of ordinary women and the extraordinary paths they choose. Inspired by a lifetime of exploring lush forests and breathtaking landscapes, Karin’s stories blend elements of epic fantasy, historical fiction, and romance. The worlds she creates are a strange amalgamation of medieval Europe and colonial Central America, with misty forests, vast savannas, and steamy jungles. They are populated by brave heroines, noble heroes, and twisted villains. From ancient woodlands to uncharted seas, readers will experience gripping battle scenes, heart wrenching loss, hard-won triumphs, and the ultimate magic of love. Karin’s fantasy novels Eolyn and High Maga are available from Hadley Rille Books. Her short stories have appeared in Zahir, 69 Flavors of Paranoia, and World Jumping. She runs an on-line discussion forum about women in genre fiction at Heroines of Fantasy. Follow Karin’s adventures into fantastic worlds, both real and imagined, at krgastreich.com.
Author web links:
Karin’s web site: http://krgastreich.com
Heroines of Fantasy: http://heroinesoffantasy.blogspot.com
Darla’s voice is a versatile instrument used with skill. It is a voice filled with intelligence and warmth. Her sound can range from mature to youthful female, and she can also produce convincing male timbres. Narrative is presented in a conversational, down to earth, matter-of-fact manner and also displays a broad emotional range across a large repertoire of characters (female, male, young, old and "creature"). All of that while still conveying a sense of wonder when telling the story.
With experience of 34+ years as a Speech-Language Pathologist, more than 20 years as a stage & film actor and over 20 years as a trained singer with knowledge and insight into the mechanics of the voice and speech, Darla Middlebrook brings a wealth of experience to bear to develop character voices (male, female, mature, extremely elderly, creepy, bright exotic, etc) with an impressive emotional range.
Currently, Darla is one of many voice actors who narrate podcasts for AIRS-LA (an audio internet service for individuals with visual challenges) in addition to narrating audio books.
Narrator Web Links:
*~*~*COON HOLLOW TALES of paranormal romance and her ENCHANTED BOOKSTORE LEGENDS for adventurous epic fantasy romance. For a FREE ebook download, read her historic fantasy, LE CIRQUE DE MAGIE, available at Amazon and Smashwords.