Title: Blood Bonds: Ethriel
Author: Joe Walker
Genre: Fantasy, YA
Publisher: Blue Tulip Publishing
Release Date: February 24
Storm clouds gather over the land of Ethriel.
The Dark Lord, Akvandar, has defeated the once mighty Kingdom of Sol and now turns his attention upon the men of the west; a weak and fractured people struggling desperately to repel the advances of the armies spewing forth from the dreaded Spire.
Meanwhile, in the cold north, there is trouble afoot. Goblins march from the Mountain of Iron, ravaging the lands between the Range and the Impassable Peaks; a once peaceful region where the stench of betrayal is pungent and corruption is rife.
Humankind teeters on the edge of existence and the forces of good have only one choice. They must forget past grievances and fight against the evil that plagues their land in a war that will be decided by the sword and the shield.
From the deepest depths to the highest peaks, Blood Bonds will take you on a whirlwind adventure following four unlikely companions who must bind themselves in friendship, overcoming battles, betrayals and grief as they strive to bring the nations of the realm together.
Another tiresome hour of jogging and walking passed by, and gradually shoots of grass began to sprout up from the hard earth. The air grew slightly cleaner, and, at one point, there was even a lone tree that stood no bigger than a man. That brought a smile to Van’s face, for he had never seen a tree before; at least he couldn’t remember having done so. Then, as though out of nowhere, an endless expanse of twisted dark trees appeared, creaking and swaying in the wind.
The Old Forest, thought Van, his pace quickening.
The night was dark, and the colours of the forest were obscure, but Van could imagine rich greens, earthly browns, golden yellows, and crisp oranges, a whole array of colours to con- tradict the black and grey of the land surrounding the Spire.
Tuttos had stopped a few metres ahead and appeared to be listening to something. “What is it?” asked Van, coming to a standstill beside his friend.
All Van could hear was the trees and the gentle voice of the wind, nothing more. “ROOOOAAAARRRRRRR!”
Before he knew what was happening, Tuttos had shoved him to the ground, and the huge form of the Dragon Queen landed where they had been only moments before. Van rolled over to face the beast, shuddering as her fiery red eyes found his.
Going somewhere? she inquired, her mouth never moving, for she had spoken in his head.
Slaves who had actually seen the queen said that her skin was so dark they thought they would be consumed by the blackness, but in the pale moonlight she shone a purplish-red.
“Stay back!” Tuttos placed himself between Van and the creature, an orc sword in his hand, ready to attack.
A strange, earth-rumbling, guttural sound began to resonate from the Queen of the Skies, and, to his horror, Van realised she was laughing. She took one big step towards them, readying herself for the kill, and it was at that moment that an arrow flew from the trees and hit her in the fleshy joint between her solid shoulder and her wing, forcing her back in painful disbelief.
“Run, Van!” Tuttos cried, seizing the opportunity.
Van didn’t need telling twice. He surprised himself with how quickly he sprang up and limped towards the nearby forest despite the blisters on his feet and the objections of his mus- cles. Just a short distance lay between the two men and the trees, but a dragon wasn’t so easily swayed, and, now that they had a mysterious ally in the trees, she kept her distance, deciding in- stead to open her great jaws and release a hellish ball of swirling fire.
Van glanced over his shoulder and screamed, “Down!” They both dived to the ground, the soft grass cushioning their fall. The billowing ball of fire whooshed over their heads, missing them by mere inches, singeing a few hairs on Tuttos’ head before zooming onward and exploding somewhere deep within the trees ahead.
The Winged Queen resumed her pursuit whilst Van and Tuttos clambered to their feet and pressed on, desperately trying to reach the sanctity of the forest that was now so close they could almost touch it; so close that Van could smell the scent of wet grass and autumn leaves.
Something hit his legs and sent him flying to the ground for the third time that night.
So very close. He rolled onto his back and saw the dragon’s head looming over him. Her breath was hotter than the furnaces of the Spire.
Now you die. Her jaws opened to reveal the beginnings of red flame.
Joe Louis Walker was born in West Yorkshire, UK and it was here that he discovered a love for the genres of fantasy, historical fiction, sci-fi and horror. The nerd that he was, The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, The Forgotten Realms, Halo, Resident Evil, Harry Potter, anything and everything related to ancient Rome, medieval times and ancient Greece took over his childhood. It wasn’t until later that he went on to discover and be mesmerised by the works of David Gemmell, Conn Iggulden, Eric Nylund, Bernard Cornwell, George R. R. Martin, R. A. Salvatore and, eventually, a love for writing.
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