30 July 2012

Blog Tour: Firedancer by S. A. Bolich





Title: Firedancer (Masters of the Elements #1)
Author: S. A. Bolich
Pub. Date: Sept. 1, 2011
Find "Firedancer":
Amazon / B&N / Smashwords / The Book Depository



Jetta ak'Kal, the most talented Firedancer of her generation, once believed the Dance could always check the Ancient, the strange, living fire at the heart of the world. She was wrong. For all her talent, the Ancient got past her and killed her lifemate. Now, a year later, her clan demands that she resume her duties to protect another threatened village, but Jetta no longer has the heart or the confidence. Still, to Annam she must go, in company with the most erratic journeyman in all the clans. Poor Settak has only stubbornness going for him—and a long-cherished love for Jetta that she cannot return.

They arrive in Annam to discover the Ancient crawling up through abandoned mine tunnels. Thrown straight into battle with an enemy that still gives her nightmares, Jetta's private little war is complicated by the presence of Windriders, masters of air, the Ancient's most potent fuel. Arrogant and cocksure of their own ability to protect Annam, most of them side with a village faction that thinks Jetta ak'Kal is a greater liability than an asset. Only Sheshan ak’Kal seems reasonable, but his undisguised interest in Jetta sets Settak bristling.

Beset on all sides, Jetta must somehow bring Windriders and Firedancers in an unprecedented alliance to stop the Ancient, for if she fails, Annam Vale and its big, laughing Stone Delvers will be only the first victim of the firestorm that will surely follow.



~Excerpt~

Fire rose that night. Jetta jerked awake to a deep booming horn shivering the glass in the windows and Nuurn's voice shouting, "Fire, Jetta ak'Kal! Fire at the storehouses!"



She scrambled out of bed, throwing a harried look out the window. She could not see the fire but she saw a glow, the size of which turned her stomach to knots. Ruthlessly she suppressed it and charged down the hill. Clouds had rolled in since sunset; it was black as the inside of Wind Point between the houses, forcing Jetta to slow down on the uneven streets. Then a huge shadow loomed out of the night and Rununn said breathlessly, "Follow me, ak'Kal!"



His great hand caught hers and tugged; she followed, trusting his night vision as he wove around hummocks and ruts. Her feet were wet and numb from the chill dew on the ankle-deep grass by the time they dashed over the slight rise and came to the first of the storehouses. Delvers with shovels, with buckets and picks, some half dressed, others barefoot, milled around between her and the fire, determined to catch any spark.



"Let me through!" she shouted, pounding both fists on the first broad back. Rununn cleared a path with indelicate shoves of a broad shoulder and many a, "Pardon, master. Please step aside." that would have set Jetta giggling at any other time. One Delver turned with a sharp, angry protest, planting himself in Rununn's path. Jetta almost shrieked at sight of Burrood.



"Remember yourself, a'Kam!" he snapped at Rununn.



"B--ak'Kal--"



Jetta, trapped amid a towering forest of giant Delver bodies, lost all diplomacy. "Move!" she screamed at Burrood. "The fire--"



Burrood opened his mouth, but what he might have said, Jetta never found out. Rununn wrapped both strong young arms around the older Delver and simply lifted him out of the way, his face averted from Burrood's astonished outrage. Jetta darted through that convenient hole and halted, appalled.



Not one, but three separate fires burned on the road and in the spring grass on the uphill verge. Settak faced the largest, an inferno in the middle of the road roaring shoulder high with a yellow-white core. The other two were spinning threads into the damp and verdant grass, finding it tough going but racing to combine arms of knee-high reddish flame.



"Dancer, what do we do?" a panicked Delver shouted at her.



Jetta gathered her wits. "Clear a line around those two!" She pointed at the lesser fires, which would not spread quickly in that lush grass. "And stay back!"



She ran to join Settak. Outmatched, still he bravely stood his ground. As she came up beside him he thrust his hands out in the move that had worked so well yesterday. The fire shied back but none of its flickering branches sank or died. Jetta saw the failure hit him like a blow to the gut and shouted, "Show no fear, Dancer! Take position on the other side!"



He turned his head and saw her. Relief washed into his face. He nodded and spun away, terrified but still game. Jetta stepped instinctively into the Dance, straight to the fifth movement.



No retreat.



The fire roared at her, malicious to its core. She felt its hostility as she had felt it at Firehome, at Setham. Heat blasted toward her and recoiled; she saw it withering the grass even where fire had not yet taken hold. Sweat glistened on Delver faces at the edge of the light. She set them from her mind, concentrating on the ground underfoot, reaching for the pulsing power under Earth Mother's skin. She planted both feet in the dying heat of ruined grass, uncomfortably warm for a terrifying, endless instant in which she could not feel the run of the fire even with it towering in front of her. And then it came, the sweet, staggering relief of the Dance connecting her to...everything. Everything worth protecting.



The heat faded. The searing brightness dimmed as the air seemed to thicken into a shield around her. The acrid bite of smoke and scorched grass no longer afflicted her nose. Jetta scarcely noticed, for the center of the fire faded to palest yellow and then to white, and a hysth burned there, cunning vanguard of the Ancient, defying the Dance, the Mother. Her. Jetta set her jaw and began to dance.



The hysth roared at her, divided itself and tried to advance on her flanks; she stopped it with an improbable leap and twist that took her level with shocked Delver eyes. On the edge of her awareness danced Settak in brief glimpses of random movements, out of step with her own, disconnected, though she saw that somehow he was keeping the fire from spreading on his side. He was not Kori; she could not expect his efforts to lock smoothly with hers, but still it distracted her on levels she barely sensed save in tiny jolts to the smooth flow of the energy pouring through her.



Then a malevolent intelligence assaulted her, a driving need deep underground. The Ancient. The hysth lunged at her, breaking out of its circle to attack the ground at her feet, burning downward, striving to dump her into the arms of the Ancient. Dimly she heard Settak's frenzied "Jetta!"...

~About the Author~









S. A. Bolich is a full-time freelancer who writes on a wide range of topics ranging from travel to horses to web design—and of course, fantasy and science fiction.  A native of Washington state, she resides there again after serving six years in Germany as an army military intelligence officer. She graduated summa cum laude from college with a degree in history, which she confesses was greatly aided by devouring historical fiction of every era and kind through her formative years.  She is also a lifelong horsewoman and shares her knowledge in the popular "Horses in Fiction" blog series at blog.sabolichbooks.com, in which she helps writers keep their equines from falling into the trap of Hollywood clich├ęs.



Her first novel, Firedancer, Book 1 of the Masters of the Elements series, was released in September 2011 by Sky Warrior Books, with Book 2, Windrider, appearing in May 2012.  Her short fiction has appeared in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, On Spec, Damnation Books, and many other print magazines and ezines, as well as the steampunk anthology Gears and Levers 1, the military SF anthology Defending the Future IV: No Man’s Land, and the wolf-themed fantasy collection, Wolfsongs 2.  Currently she is working on Seaborn, Book 3 of Masters of the Elements.

Website / Blog / Twitter- @SABOLICHWRITES / Facebook / Goodreads

No comments:

Post a Comment