Sunday, October 7, 2018

A Muddle of Magic by Alexandra Rushe






A Muddle of Magic
Fledgling Magic #2
by Alexandra Rushe
Genre: Epic Fantasy
Pub Date: 10/2/18


What’s a nice Southern girl doing in a place like this?

Whisked from humdrum Alabama to the fantastical land of Tandara by a mage who won’t take no for an answer, Raine Stewart finds herself tangled in a muddle of magic. A Dark Wizard is out for her blood, a demonic golem has orders to dispatch her . . . and she stinks at magic. Being a wizard, even a baby wizard, is harder than Raine thought.

Raine and her companions find sanctuary amongst the famed warriors of the snow-capped nation of Finlara, and Raine is reunited with her dear friend, the frost giant Tiny Bartog. In short order, she unearths a magic mirror, a dread curse, and a tragic, ill-fated love affair.

Safety, however, is an illusion. The dreaded Magog’s Eye is still missing, and war looms. It seems an entire world hangs in the balance, waiting to see whether Raine will be able to harness her magic. But with a little help from her friends, she’ll survive . . . she hopes.







Prologue
Bedtime for the Mablet

A blizzard raged outside the thatched cottage, rattling the shutters like an angry frost giant, but the boy was unafraid. His mother was strong and fierce, and mighty in magic. She would keep him safe. Sitting at the table eating his supper, he watched her throw another log on the fire. Sparks shot up the chimney and fire imps danced in the flames.

“Finish your milk, boy,” she said in her gruff voice. “Bed time.”

“I’m not sleepy. I want a story.”

“There are more stories than hairs on your head. Which do you want?”

“You know, Mor. Finn and the Troll.”

“Again?” She sighed. “I should think you’d weary of that one.”

The boy shook his head. “It’s my favorite.”

“Very well.” She heaved her bulk into a sturdy chair by the fire. “Come here.”

The boy jumped down from the bench and climbed onto her lap. Settling him in the crook of her arm, she said, “Finn and the troll, having bested the god Trowyn in a contest of wits, were given the task of—”

The boy wrapped his small fingers around one of his mother’s tusks. “No, Mor. From the beginning. I want the whole story. Starting with Magog and Xan.”

“Cheeky cub.” The troll tickled his ribs until he squealed. “As you know, the gods of Tandara once numbered ten.”

The boy sat up in her lap. “I can name the gods. Brefreton taught me a poem about them.”

“Did he? I’d like to hear it.”

He regarded her from beneath lowered brows. “If I tell you, I still get a story?”

“You drive a hard bargain, but the answer is yes.”

The boy nodded. Taking a deep breath, he recited,

Once upon a time, ere the world was changed,
The gods numbered ten and these are their names:
Kron the Smith, god of forge and flame,
Seth, Lord of Darkness, turmoil, and change.
Reba the Bountiful, goddess of dawn,
Bringer of light and things that are grown.
Gar, fierce Hunter, god of rivers and rain,
Esma the Healer and easer of pain.
Valdar the Merry of poem and wine,
The sweetest nectar born of the vine,
Tam is the goddess of sea, hearth, and lore,
Trowyn the Bear—

The boy broke off. “Trowyn’s my favorite, ╩╝cause he can turn into a bear,” he confided, curling his fingers like claws. “But Finn bested him, all the same.”

“Yes, he did. Go on.”

The boy nodded, and continued:

Trowyn the Bear god wields his Hammer of War,
Last come Magog and his twin brother Xan,
They loved one another, then Magog raised his hand.
Magog the Comely—

The boy wrinkled his nose. “Comely makes him sound like a girl, and Magog is a boy god.”

“Take it up with the poet. I didn’t write it.”

“Bree says Magog was handsome. Handsomer than Xan.”

“Aye, Magog was beautiful to look upon.” The troll tugged one of her long ears. “By human standards, at any rate.”


“Until he ripped his face off.”



A Meddle of Wizards
Fledgling Magic #1
A Meddle of Wizards
Fledgling Magic #1

Welcome to Tandara, where gods are fickle, nightmares are real, and trolls make excellent bakers . . .
Raine Stewart is convinced she’ll die young and alone in Alabama, the victim of a chronic, mysterious illness. Until a man in a shabby cloak steps out of her mirror and demands her help to defeat a bloodthirsty wizard.


Raine shrugs it off as a hallucination—just one more insult from her failing body—and orders her intruder to take a hike. But the handsome figment of her imagination won’t take no for an answer, and kidnaps her anyway, launching her into a world of utmost danger—and urgent purpose.

Ruled by unpredictable gods and unstable nations, Tandara is a land of shapeshifters and weather-workers, queens and legends. Ravenous monsters and greedy bounty hunters patrol unforgiving mountains. Riverboats pulled by sea-cattle trade down broad waterways. And creatures of nightmare stalk Raine herself, vicious in the pursuit of her blood.

But Raine isn’t helpless or alone. She’s part of a band as resourceful as it is odd: a mage-shy warrior, a tattered wizard, a tenderhearted giant, and a prickly troll sorceress. Her new friends swear she has powers of her own.   If she can stay under their protection, she might just live long enough to find out . . .






“Raine? Get back here. You need to see this.”
What now? Raine thought, closing the door. Hurrying into the library, she found Mimsie standing by the window, her slim form shining in the dim light. The ghost raised her arm and pointed to the mirror over the mantel. The glass rippled like wind-tossed water.
            Raine gasped in shock as the billowing folds of the mirror parted and a man with shoulder-length auburn hair stepped out. He held a brilliant jewel in one hand and he was dressed in some sort of costume—a tattered brown cloak, a knee-length rumpled brown tunic worn over loose leggings of the same color, and scruffy brown boots. He was handsome, Raine’s stunned brain realized, but he was not the man on the ship. Oh, no. This was an entirely different apparition. She stumbled back, tripped on the hem of her pajamas, and crashed to the floor with the grace of a hippo  . Ignoring her aching rump, she gaped at the stranger.
            “Do you see what I see?” Raine asked Mimsie, her gaze on her brain’s latest manifestation. Boy, when she had a meltdown, she had a doozy.
            “If you’re talking about the man in the funny getup, absolutely,” the ghost said. “Call the police.”
            “And tell them what? ╩╝Scuse me, officer, could you send someone over? A man just broke into my house through the library mirror? They’ll lock me up and throw away the key.”
            The man gave Raine a quizzical look and said something in a strange language. He waved the jewel at her and took a tentative step closer.
            “Forget the police,” Mimsie said with a hiss. “Run. I’ll create a diversion.”
Raine scrambled to her feet and backed toward the door, her gaze on the stranger. He spoke again and the jewel in his hand flared, bleaching the library walls white. Raine’s muscles went stiff and hard as rock. She froze, unable to move, pinned to the floor like a bug.
             “Let her go,” Mimsie screeched.
She flew at the man, passed through him, and came out the other side, but if the intruder noticed, he gave no sign. With a despairing wail, Mimsie disappeared, leaving Raine alone with him. Closing the space between them, he lifted Raine’s arm and examined the splotch on the underside of her left wrist. She stared at him, dizzy and disoriented. His hands were strong and uncallused, and his palms were hot against her skin.
            He felt awfully real for a dream. No matter, she told herself. Tomorrow morning when I wake, he’ll be gone.
            The stranger regarded her, his gaze troubled. “There must be some mistake.”
            English, the man had spoken English, though his accent was peculiar. He released her and stepped back. “You are not what I expected, but you have the mark.” He stroked his chin. “Still, best to be sure.”

            He waved the stone again. Raine’s petrified muscles relaxed without warning, and she crumpled to the floor.




Alexandra Rushe was born in South Alabama, and grew up climbing trees,
searching for sprites and fairies in the nearby woods, and dreaming
of other worlds. The daughter of an English teacher and a small-town
judge, Rushe developed a love of reading early on, and haunted the
school and local libraries, devouring fairy tales, myths, and tales
of adventure. In the seventh grade, she stumbled across a worn copy
of The Hobbit,
and was forever changed. She loves fantasy and paranormal, but only
between the pages of a book—the flying monkeys in The Wizard of Oz give her
the creeps, and she eschews horror movies. A psychic friend once
proclaimed the linen closet in Rushe’s bedroom a portal to another
dimension, and she hasn’t slept well since. Rushe is a world-class
chicken.
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