Hi! I’m Lou Hoffmann, author of The Sun Child Chronicles Series. Book one, Key of Behliseth, was released in 2014, and book two is (finally) coming October 6th! Check out this great cover by Catt Ford! Lucky, our fifteen-year-old hero, has his life take a whole new turn when he moves from a fairly ordinary California town to a different world—his home world, Ethra, where the technology is all about magic, and transportation is on foot, on horseback, or by Portal of Naught. I hope you’ll join him on his adventures as his mistaken choices land him in the middle of an epic quest.
Don’t miss the Rafflecopter giveaway! Win an ebook of Key of Behliseth, and a $5 gift certificate you can use toward Wraith Queen’s Veil. If you’ve already read Key of Behliseth, you have an extra entry option, and you can designate a friend to get the ebook as a gift from you! (And you still get the $5.)
When Lucky arrives in Ethra, the world of his birth and destiny, he expects a joyful reunion, but the first thing he notices when he reaches the Sisterhold—his home—is something false behind his mother’s smile. In a matter of weeks, the Sisterhold becomes agitated with worries and war plans. People he trusts—like the wizard Thurlock—frequently can’t be found. His mother seems angry, especially with Lucky. Even Han Shieth, the warrior uncle he has come to rely on and love above all others, maintains a sullen silence toward him.
When Lucky’s resentment builds to the breaking point, his bad decisions put him and his friends, L’Aria and Zhevi, in unthinkable danger. Han arrives to help, but he can’t claim invulnerability to the hazards and evils that threaten at every turn. Events launch Lucky, alone, on a quest for he knows not what, but every step brings him closer to his identity and full strength. Self-knowledge, trust, and strength lead to smarter choices, but even his best efforts might not render his world truly safe, now or for the future.
The weather cleared and all the snow melted, soaking the low fields and swelling the creeks and rivers almost over their banks. Fortunately, the next three days were sunny and boasted a strong, dry wind, so the land dried out and the roads were passable within a week. The weather tapered off to cool but mellow days, and Thurlock took Lucky south to Nedhra City by way of ordinary packed-dirt roads. They walked, not taking horses because Lucky had proved a dismal student for riding. They didn’t use a Portal because Thurlock reasoned an overland trip would form part of Lucky’s education, help him become familiar with the lay of the land from the Sisterhold to other parts of the Sunlands. Lucky was okay with that. He didn’t have any great love for travel by Portal, though before he knew they actually existed, he’d liked the idea. Like in Star Trek, or Stargate, or books about physics.
Besides, he liked seeing the country, finding it oddly familiar, though he didn’t really remember any of it. The way the sun, bigger than Earth’s, always stayed lower in the sky, so shadows were long at any time of day, and people became walking sundials. The way water sometimes moved up an irrigation ditch, pushed only by a bit of magic set in place perhaps centuries ago by some farmer who simply knew his craft. The absence of telephone wires, streetlamps, and liquor stores. Hoofbeats instead of car noise. Stone markers instead of street signs. Not a chain-link fence in sight.
But as they approached Nedhra in the early afternoon of their third day out from the Sisterhold, Thurlock motioned Lucky to join him on the broad, grassy verge at the side of the road, where they sat and chewed grass stalks. Which both Lucky and Thurlock soon spit out because they really didn’t taste all that good. They laughed about that, like old times, but then Thurlock returned to the serious, sometimes surly mood he seemed to be in almost all the time since they’d come back from Earth.
“Luccan, it’s important for you to understand that not everyone here in Ethra, or in the Sunlands, or even within the Sisterhold, is glad you’ve come home. When we—”
“Great! I was a little nervous about this before, but now I’m really looking forward—”
“Be quiet and listen, Luccan. I’ve no time for your self-pity. Believe it or not, others have it much worse than you.”
Lucky stared at the wizard’s sharp-featured profile, astounded that the old man would even say that to him, after what he’d gone through the last few years. “I know that, sir. I really do.”
The wizard took a long, deep breath, shook his head, and sighed. “Not ‘sir,’ Luccan, just Thurlock. And yes, I know that you do. I apologize for speaking carelessly. Nevertheless, it is important that you listen now. We truly do not have time for any kind of distraction. The Wizards’ and Scholars’ Forum will begin in about…” He stopped to check the sun’s place in the sky. “…about sixteen hours. Do you have any idea what to expect?”
“Um. Well, you’ll be in charge, sort of. My mom will be there. And Han, right?”
“Yes, all correct. And the matter under discussion?”
“The… uh… what happened in Earth, with Isa, and all that.” A thought struck Lucky at that moment. Behl’s teeth, he thought, already learning to swear like the wizard, at least in his thoughts. How could I not have thought about this before?
“Thurlock, I won’t have to get up and give a speech or anything, will I?”
“No, no, not yet, though you probably should begin getting used to the idea. Like all leaders, you will have to do a lot of talking, and at least some of it should make sense. But that’s for the future. For this time, you will mostly observe, and be observed. Those who are in your camp, so to speak, will probably mostly ignore you, but your detractors will watch your every move, hoping for fuel to use in future political debates.
“Now, most of those people are harmless, just women and men who believe themselves to be right and, consequently, you and what you stand for to be wrong. Annoying and misguided, we know, but not threatening, per se.”
“I thought you said I was, like, the ruler by birth, or something. Like a king.”
“You are. That’s exactly what some of them don’t like.”
“But, Thurlock, have you ever stopped to consider maybe they’re right?”
Thurlock chuckled, that huge, from-deep-in-the-big-wizardly-chest chuckle that had seemed by turns comforting and frightening to Lucky during their brief week together in Earth. Now it mostly surprised him.
“There you go again,” the old man said, “asking good questions. Unfortunately, now is not an especially good time to ponder them. What’s important at this moment is for you to understand that among those who oppose you are some—a few—who are not so benign; who might seek to harm you physically or—very likely—magically.” He paused and turned to meet Lucky’s eyes, as if making sure he was really paying attention. “And Luccan, when it comes to that, you may very well be surprised as to who your enemies are.”
Lucky snorted in exasperation, a feeling all too familiar when it came to dealings with the wizard. “Thurlock, before, you couldn’t tell me where I was from, you couldn’t tell me my name, you couldn’t tell me about the Witch-Mortaine Isa, and you couldn’t tell me just about anything else you knew about me. This time, please, whatever you know, just tell me.”
“You have what?”
“Told you what I know. There are those who don’t like you, and you may be surprised who they are.”
“But you don’t know who they are?”
“No, I don’t know.”
“So you’ll be careful, boy. Pay attention, with all of your senses. Be careful.”
Lou Hoffmann has carried on her love affair with books for decades, yet she hasn’t even made a dent in the list of books she’d love to read—at least partly because the list keeps growing. She reads factual things—books about physics and history and fractal chaos, but when she wants truth, she looks for it in quality fiction. She loves all sorts of wonderful things: music and silence, laughter and tears, youth and age, sunshine and storms, forests and fields, flora and fauna, rivers and seas. Even good movies and popcorn! Those things help her breathe, and everyone she knows helps her write. (Special mention goes to (1) George the Lady Cat and (2) readers.) Proud to be a bisexual, biracial woman, Lou considers every person a treasure not to be taken for granted. In her life, she’s seen the world’s willingness to embrace differences change, change back, and change again in dozens of ways, but she has great hope for the world the youth of today will create. She writes for readers who find themselves anywhere on the spectrums of age and gender, aiming to create characters that live not only in their stories, but always in your imagination and your heart.