I just wanted to take a minute and encourage any fantasy-lovers out there to take a chance on a book that has recently been released -
In Her Name: Empire by Michael Hicks
This is the first book in a trilogy that I had the privilege of reading last year - I had the omnibus edition, so got to read the whole story together. It is self-published, which I know scares some people off, but I am a huge fan of this book.
Here is my review of In Her Name from Bookloons, if you are interested in learning more. I understand it will also shortly be released for the Kindle, so if that is your medium of choice, check it out!
Here is an excerpt from chapter 1, where we get our first glimpse of the Priestess:
The sky was black as pitch, black as death, as the priestess walked alone over the arena this planet had become. Her sandaled feet touched the earth but left no sound, no footprint. She looked up toward where the stars should be, yearning for the great moon that shone over the Homeworld. But the only sight to be had was the glowing red smears of the fires that were reflected by the wafting smoke and dust.
As she made her way across the field of carnage, she touched the bodies of the fallen children to honor them as they had honored their Empress. They had sacrificed their lives to show their love for Her. She grieved for them all, that they had died this day, never again to feel the flame that drove them to battle, the thrill of sword and claw, never again to serve the Empress through their flesh. Now they basked in the quiet sunset of the Afterlife, someday perhaps to join the ranks of the Ancient Ones, the warriors of the spirit.
She moved on toward her destination. It had once been a human dwelling, but now was a mound of ashen rubble. It squatted impetuously in the wasteland created by weapons the Kreela disdained to use. The humans had never realized that the destruction of their worlds was caused by their own predilection for such weaponry, to which the Kreela sometimes had to respond in kind. The warriors of the Empress sought battles of the mind, body, and spirit, of sword and claw, and not of brute destruction.
Watching the battles rage here for several cycles of the sun across the sky, she had become increasingly curious about these particular humans who fought so well, and at last had decided that perhaps they were worthy of her personal attention. She bade the young warriors to rest, to wait for her return, before setting out on her own journey of discovery.
She paused when she reached the back of the crumbled structure that hid the humans that had piqued her curiosity. She listened for their heartbeats, smelled their pungent body odor, felt for their strange, alien spirit with her mind. After a moment she had a picture of them, where they sat and stood within.
Silent as the dead around her, she moved to a specific point along the wall. Her breathing and heart stilled, she concealed everything about herself that made her presence real. Unless one of them looked directly at her, she would be utterly invisible.
Then she stepped through the wall, her flesh and armor melding with the essence of the barrier as she passed through without so much as a whisper.
(In Her Name: Empire, by Michael Hicks - reprinted with permission from the author)
Seriously, if you are looking for another great fantasy read, check this one out. I don't think you will be disappointed - except maybe that it ends too soon!