#Excerpt - Shardfall by @Graylorne #YA #Fantasy

(The Shardheld Saga, Book 1)
by: Paul E. Horsman

Publication:  June 2013
ISBN:  9491730037
ASIN:  B00D962P6E
Length:  143 pages
Genres: Fantasy, YA

Book Description:

Muus is only a thrall, a chattel without rights, but he knows the small, blue shard he picked up belongs to him alone. Kjelle, heir to the Lord of a rich mininghold, is strong, and covetous of his thrall's tantalizing find. The one's greed causes an avalanche that leaves both young men marooned on an icy mountain slope. The other's commonsense saves their lives from cold and starvation. Now the antagonists are bound together on a danger-laden journey to a lost and burning land, where Muus needs to connect the skyshard to the Kalmanir, the standing stone that is the world’s fount of all magic. The Kalmanir's time is almost up and it urgently needs to be replenished before the magic of Gods and men runs out. The two antagonists have to learn to trust each other, for all around them, enemies abound. Rebels threaten both the kingdom and Kjelle's holding, and a tribe of mad idolaters is trying to recall the banned primordial Old Gods. Even more imminent is Muus' danger, for it comes from nearby, from the shard itself. Muus is the only one person in the world who can wield the powerful skyshard. Will he succeed with Kjelle's help to reach the standing stone before the world's magic dies? Shardfall is an epic, non-gritty journey through a wild, snowy land. Each of the four main characters, Muus, Kjelle, the young wisewoman Birthe with her baby son Buí and the naive Tuuri, who serves the enemy, will have to overcome not only the dangers of their journey, but also their own shortcomings

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Rough hands shook Kjelle until he opened his eyes. ‘Wake up.’ A voice whispered. ‘Freya, help me; do wake up.’ It was Birthe, her face wet with tears and with blood from a long gash on her right eyebrow.
‘You're hurt.’
‘That's for later. We’ve got flee. Quick, get ready.’
Kjelle felt his heart pounding in his chest. ‘What's happening?’ he said, while he fastened his snowshoes and grabbed in the dark for his backpack.
‘Swinne!’ The girl’s face was a snarling mask of hate. ‘That mangy rat killed Asgisla. His men are plundering the house; we must go before they come here.’
Kjelle began to sweat, ‘Muus! Lazy bastard.’ He shook the limp body. ‘He won’t wake up.’
‘Control yourself.’ Birthe’s voice was like a whiplash. ‘It’s the dream water. You must carry him.’
Kjelle made a face. ‘Carry him?’
‘You don’t like him. That doesn’t matter, pick him up.’
The Holderling bent down and lifted the unconscious Muus from the ground. ‘He does not weigh much.’
'Easy! You don’t have to break his arm.’ Birthe looked out the door. ‘There’s no one. Come, quickly. ‘
Like two frightened shadows, they fled into the dark. It was snowing as they hurried through the forest, Kjelle with Muus over his shoulders and Birthe, deep in her cloak, silent. The ruddy glow of Belisheim’s torches faded in the twilight and soon there was nothing but snow and the creaking of overloaded branches.  Kjelle lost all sense of time and direction. Blindly, he followed Birthe until they came to the gaping mouth of a cave. A familiar smell greeted him, bringing memories he hastily repressed. Beside him, Birthe raised her hands and began to chant. She waited and listened, but nothing moved. ‘It’s empty.’

Paul E (Erik) Horsman (1952) Lives in Roosendaal, The Netherlands. I was born in the year 1952, in the Dutch town of Bussum, a sleepy, well-to-do place that was home to many artists, musicians, writers and publishers. As my family were neither artists nor well-to-do, we moved when I was nine. When I was seventeen, I started my career as paperclip counter with a worldwide Dutch producer of baby food. After some months, I was finished counting, and I looked around for something more interesting. A love of books drove me to work in a small bookstore in Rotterdam. An ancient establishment, since 1837, in an old building just too far away from the city’s modern shopping center. It was a nice job, but there wasn’t any future in it. Still, I left it a licensed bookseller. In 1972 I had to do my stitch for Queen and Country, and as a bad back tied me to a desk job, I applied for a posting overseas. For the Army, that meant Surinam, then still a member of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and one of the most beautiful. Once you’ve seen the jungle, you will never forget it. To keep it short, I stayed in business, slowly climbing the ladder, until in 1995 I changed direction. That year I joined a large educational institution, at a school specialized in Dutch language and integration courses for foreigners. That meant immigrants, refugees and international businessmen, an interesting mix. It was great work, on the one side teaching crash courses Dutch to high-powered people (we got a lot of very well-educated refugees) and on the other teaching reading and writing to people who had never ever held a pen before, let alone a computer. To see them growing was a reward in itself. Unhappily, due to changed legislation the language school closed in mid-2012. In the meantime, I had started my first book (Rhidauna) in 2009 and it got published by Zilverspoor Publishers just before I got laid off. As my age, five years from retirement, made it nigh on impossible to find something else, I started building a career as an independent author. SF and Fantasy have fascinated me since my high school days, but apart from some juvenile trash, I never seriously tried to write anything. But after several false starts and associated discouraged intervals, a spark began to grow and mid-2010, the first two parts of Shadow of the Revenaunt were more or less written. My style is probably a bit old-fashioned, Fantasy as a heroic tale with sympathetic heroes/heroines and black villains, in which good always triumphs in the end. I don’t use my characters as cannon fodder; they get hurt, but their dying is rare. One of the other elements in my writing I think important is, that both male and female characters have their own lives and goals. Most of them exist primarily for themselves, not as a prop or a love interest for other MC’s. The only character who did die, was actually a prop and I had him killed just to take that away from my lead MC.

  A word about the book cover of ‘Shardfall’ Designed by top illustrator Jos Weijmer of JW Art Studio, Maastricht (2013). The cover gives an impression of a scene from the book, the two main male characters, Muus and Kjelle, wrestling for possession of the blue stone Muus found. The style of all my covers is purposely old-school Fantasy, to give all my books their own, distinct identity. Because of their nostalgic look, these covers have been met with acclaim among fantasy fans.

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