Title: Memories of Ash
Series: The Sunbolt Chronicles, Book Two
Author: Intisar Khanani
Cover Designer: Jenny Zemanek
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Release Date: May 30, 2016
Publisher: Purple Monkey Press
In the year since she cast her sunbolt, Hitomi has recovered only a handful of memories. But the truths of the past have a tendency to come calling, and an isolated mountain fastness can offer only so much shelter. When the High Council of Mages summons Brigit Stormwind to stand trial for treason, Hitomi knows her mentor won’t return—not with Arch Mage Blackflame behind the charges.
Armed only with her magic and her wits, Hitomi vows to free her mentor from unjust imprisonment. She must traverse spell-cursed lands and barren deserts, facing powerful ancient enchantments and navigating bitter enmities, as she races to reach the High Council. There, she reunites with old friends, planning a rescue equal parts magic and trickery.
If she succeeds, Hitomi will be hunted the rest of her life. If she fails, she’ll face the ultimate punishment: enslavement to the High Council, her magic slowly drained until she dies.
There’s something powerful about being high up on a roof, a great shimmering expanse of lake off to the side, forested mountains rising to frame the wide blue swath of sky. With each swing of the hammer, each nail driven home to hold a shingle in place, I feel my blood thrum through my veins. Despite the lake breeze that cools me, my tunic sticks to my back, the taste of salt on my lips. Even as my arms tire, each swing of the hammer weighing heavier, I don’t want to stop. It’s a temporary magic, if you can call it magic at all.
The cottage remains quiet as the sun continues to creep toward noon. I descend from the roof once to refill my flask from the bucket Stormwind left. I can detect the faint murmur of voices, but with the door closed, I cannot catch the words themselves, nor can I hear any better crouched beneath the shuttered windows. It isn’t until just past noon, my rooftop magic grown threadbare and the muscles of my arms aching, that Stormwind comes outside.
“Hikaru!” She steps around the corner carrying a bowl of stew.
I clamber down, hammer in hand. Stormwind tips her head toward the cottage, her brow furrowed and her pale eyes steely. “How goes the roof?”
“Not too bad.” I ladle water from the bucket to rinse my hands. Is the mage listening, or is she simply warning me to exercise caution? “What about your visitor?”
“He is High Mage Harith Stonefall.”
I raise my brows in question.
“He’s one of the High Council’s best rogue hunters.”
“You’re a rogue?” I can’t keep the disbelief from my voice. It seems about as likely as her spontaneously breaking into song and dancing across the surface of the lake.
“The Council sent him because they expected I would be hard to find. They do not wish to waste their time looking.”
I stand still, water dripping from my fingertips. To my knowledge, Stormwind has had nothing to do with the Council since I arrived here. “What does the High Council want from you?”
“Stonefall brought a summons. I must go back with him at once.” The words are as abrupt and sharp as the crack of lake ice in the night. I experience a plummeting moment of nausea. Then I take the bowl from her and sit down cross-legged with it. A summons could mean anything. It’s what she hasn’t said, the things her expression won’t let slip, that worry me.
“What do they want?” I repeat softly.
She stares down at the dirt by our feet. “I’ve been charged.”
She raises her gaze to me. The hollowness of her eyes has a familiarity that reaches back into the ashes of my past. It is a look that has no place in this quiet valley. “Treason.”
OTHER BOOKS IN THE SERIES:
The winding streets and narrow alleys of Karolene hide many secrets, and Hitomi is one of them. Orphaned at a young age, Hitomi has learned to hide her magical aptitude and who her parents really were. Most of all, she must conceal her role in the Shadow League, an underground movement working to undermine the powerful and corrupt Arch Mage Wilhelm Blackflame.
When the League gets word that Blackflame intends to detain—and execute—a leading political family, Hitomi volunteers to help the family escape. But there are more secrets at play than Hitomi’s, and much worse fates than execution. When Hitomi finds herself captured along with her charges, it will take everything she can summon to escape with her life.
Intisar Khanani grew up a nomad and world traveler. Born in Wisconsin, she has lived in five different states as well as in Jeddah on the coast of the Red Sea. She first remembers seeing snow on a wintry street in Zurich, Switzerland, and vaguely recollects having breakfast with the orangutans at the Singapore Zoo when she was five. She currently resides in Cincinnati, Ohio, with her husband and two young daughters.
Until recently, Intisar wrote grants and developed projects to address community health with the Cincinnati Health Department, which was as close as she could get to saving the world. Now she focuses her time on her two passions: raising her family and writing fantasy. Intisar's current projects include a companion trilogy to Thorn, following the heroine introduced in her free short story The Bone Knife, and The Sunbolt Chronicles, an epic series following a street thief with a propensity to play hero when people need saving, and her nemesis, a dark mage intent on taking over the Eleven Kingdoms.
Top Five Indie Fantasy Reads
I love reading indie fantasy, and not just because I write it myself. Indie books are where you’ll find authors taking chances, trying out fantastic new takes on old stories, and going places traditional publishers fear to tread.
I have a hard time making top five lists—I’m more of a top 50 kinda gal—so I narrowed things down for today. These are my Top Five indie fantasy stories that I read in the last year, in no particular order, because how could I possible decide?
- Twelve Days of Faery by W.R. Gingell - A fun, intriguing, puzzle-box of a story. King Markon is about ready to wall his only son and heir off from the world because every girl the boy so much as smiles at suffers a terrible fate. Enter Althea, an enchantress with a brilliant mind and a tendency to take (considered) risks, intent on figuring out exactly where this curse is coming from, and you have the making of a great story.
- Mourning Cloak by Rabia Gale - Kato Vorsok was once the Chosen One, and now he mixes drinks for theatergoers. He is bitter, and broken, and soul-weary, and then a demon creature (a mourning cloak) speaks his name and looks at him with human eyes. Between the fantastic premise, an amazingly rich world, and Gale’s gift for description and language generally, I can pretty much guarantee you will love this science fantasy novella.
- The Seventh Magpie by Nancy Chase – A lyrically-told fairy tale, poignant and bittersweet to the end, The Seventh Magpie is an exquisite debut by author Nancy Chase. Billed as a tale of "loss and renewal," this novel offers a story of hope and despair, life and death, intertwined and inseparable by their very nature.
- Stray (The Touchstone Trilogy) by Andrea Höst - I usually find diary-style books somewhat underwhelming, but it worked fantastically in this sci-fi / fantasy / psychic space ninja story. Can I say that again? Psychic space ninja story. I loved the many commentaries layered into this story, but don't get me wrong, this isn't a heavy read. It's fast and enjoyable and the issues raised are dealt with using a touch of humor and left for the reader to think about (or not).
- The Pygmy Dragon by March Secchia – This story takes a while to start, but I couldn’t put it down. It follows the story of Pip, a Pygmy girl who is enslaved—and put in a zoo. This book is about a person of color, a girl coming of age, someone whose humanity is routinely and disgustingly denied them, and she has to deal with short people jokes too. And you know what? Pip is awesome. But it gets better, because just when you think you know where this story is going… dragons! And dragon shifters!
And that’s my Top Five! I hope you’ve discovered some new reads to check out here. What have you read recently that you loved? It seems like there are always so many more amazing authors to discover!
Giveaway Information: Contest ends June 18, 2016
- Kindle Fire giveaway (or $50 GC for international winners) PLUS a swag bundle