Sunwielder

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Sunwielder

In a land on the brink of war, Gryff Worden finds his life slaughtered in the farmyard. Mortally wounded he stumbles upon a timekeeper, a woman who tracks the infinite paths of each life. She offers him a sunwield, a medallion that returns him to the critical choices that altered his life’s journey. Now his life remakes itself through the sunwield, returning him repeatedly to moments of decision and death, his old life gone, the purpose of the medallion around his neck forgotten. As he uncovers the power of the sunwield, new choices lead him on an epic journey through war, death, friendship, life, and love.

Order your copy from Amazon’s global link here: Sunwielder

Prologue

The warrior rode in silence. Black oaks and silvergreen, dark with summer leaves, swathed the trail in shifting shadow. Shafts of sunlight speared the forest floor, altered only by the graceful sway of branches in the heated wind. She directed the mare with her knees, an arrow nocked in the recurve bow, a full quiver hanging from her pommel. A short sword, with a breath of a curve, rested in its scabbard at her belt, the ornate guard and curling quillon studded with moonstones.

Even this far from the battlefield, the land of Aldykar was riddled with brigands, deserters, and the soldiers hunting them. Yet she wore no armor, only the leathers of her homeland, tawny jerkin and breeches, soft-soled boots laced to the knee. Her hair, the red of old blood, flared in the filtered light, brushing her cheeks. Slanted gray eyes, pale as winter clouds, scanned the dark recesses of rock and fern in the hollows beneath the trees. The meeting place lay in a foreign wilderness, a place not unknown to her for she’d traveled the roadways and trails between Edriis and Mastrelle before, as maiden and warrior. Why the old woman chose the woods of Casbonny caused her wonder and filled her with wariness.

An owl’s solemn voice hooted in the moving shadows. The clearing lay ahead through columns of black bark, the round glade sunbathed and thick with fine grass. A young silvergreen grew in its center, branches filigreed steel in the pool of light. Her grandmother stood before the tree, arms at her side, gray hair plaited at her back. An odd expression imprinted her smooth face, a blend of relief, hope, and terrible resignation. “I am alone, Estriilde,” she said.

Songbirds quipped and called in the trees, offering no warning of predators. Estriilde relaxed her bowstring and slipped the arrow into her quiver. A long leg swung over the saddle, and she landed lightly at the shadow’s edge. “We live today, Grandmother,” she said in greeting.

“We live today.” Again the sorrow.

“Why all the trouble to meet at this place?” She tethered Morning Dove to a branch at the glade’s rim. “I ride to Angefell in eight days.”

That she’d received her grandmother’s missive at all seemed a toss left to chance, though she knew better. The old one glimpsed the endless arrays of time, how each moment unfolded like a fan with infinite future possibilities. She traveled them, followed their paths, tracked the splintering of lives, chose and chose through the moments to see where they wended and died.

“You know I bear a vision, my little one.”

Little one? Estriilde smiled. They were Edriisan, statuesque compared to the women of Aldykar, and she stood a hand taller than her grandmother. “This place is part of a path?”

Clasping her hand, the woman drew her into the glade’s light. “Every moment is a path. Yet this is the only one that will save you. The only one I could find. You have died a thousand times.”

Estriilde sighed. “Only today exists.”

“Only now exists, Estriilde. Only now, but I cannot help seeing what I see.”

“What will happen here?” She withdrew from her grandmother’s grasp and walked the edge of the grass in a slow circle, her right hand fingering the hilt of her sword.

The old one’s reply laced the air with ice, “The stranger will come when he hears you scream.”

“Am I to die today?” Estriilde slid the blade free, sunlight glinting on watery steel.

“It is the only way,” the gray woman whispered.

“You invite me to my death, Grandmother.” Estriilde gazed at the forlorn eyes, so like her own. “I will not die easily.”

“You will scream.”

Eyes closed, Estriilde raised her face to the cloudless sky. “Will you stay to see me fall?”

“I cannot, my child. But I will sing for you when you’re dead.”

The birds stilled, their calls frozen in the thick air. The debris of the forest floor rustled and snapped beneath the soft thud of approaching hooves.

“It comes now?” She cast a sideways glance through a wisp of blood red hair to find her grandmother gone.

Bearing weapons of war, the riders reined their mounts at the rim of the glade and slid from their saddles.

Then the screaming began.

13 thoughts on “Sunwielder

  1. babbitman says:

    Hi Diana, me again 🙂
    Well I’ve just finished Sunwielder and it is simply stunning! The plot device, the characters, the world, the morality of Gryff and Edriis… it all just blew me away. And I don’t know whether you’re much of a gamer, but the whole aspect of alternative choices to be made when everything goes pear-shaped sounded a vibrant chord with me (not that I play computer games a massive amount but there is one particular series called Total War, my favourite being Medieval II – see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medieval_II:_Total_War and then check out various YouTube clips). It’s a turn-based strategy game but you can initiate a tactical battle that plays out in real time against your opponent, bringing your various units (such as spearmen, archers, horse, artillery, etc.) into play as you see fit. If you’ve never played or heard of it then I am amazed because reading your book felt like some of the battles I’ve fought!
    I’ve definitely played some battles where things went horribly wrong and I was over-run and defeated… prompting me to reload from a saved game and have another go but with different tactics, much like Gryff 🙂
    And it’s all so well crafted too! Fantastic attention to detail, visceral scenes, real emotion and I can only find a couple of minor issues to pick at (don’t worry, I can pick holes in most things I read!)
    The military aspects were very well done (I’m a fan of Simon Scarrow’s Roman series and you hold your own against him) but I think my favourite scenes were towards the end (angst & turmoil bit).
    One of the best books I’ve read this year (and that’s going up against two Simon Scarrows and the last Discworld novel). If I ever write anything half as good as Sunwielder I will be chuffed to bits. And did I mention before that Fantasy isn’t really my thing? The caveat being “unless it’s written by D. Wallace Peach”.
    Lotsa love from the middle of England.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow. Thank you so much for the great feedback. I’m moved to tears. 🙂 I really am partial to this book. I loved writing it and still have a special place in my heart for the characters and story. Some readers complain about too much battling, but I felt I needed the time to advance Griff’s military prowess. The battles are based on bits of real battles fought by Ceasar and Hannibal. They were amazing strategists. Lots of research to get that all working realistically. I’ve never played a video game in my life, but if my book can compete with a video game, that’s all right by me. 🙂 Again, thank you immensely for taking the time to make me feel like a million bucks. ❤ from the US Northwest.

      Liked by 1 person

      • babbitman says:

        You deserve all the praise I can lob across the world 🙂 The passion shows through – a genuine great achievement. And thank you for confirming that I spotted a Hannibalesque tactic used at the Battle of Cannae! Having read The Bone Wall and The Sorcerer’s Garden I knew you could tackle warfare but Sunwielder was top-drawer strategy and action in a depth I didn’t expect. The battles are the crucial elements in his journey from family farmer to conquering hero but it’s how you keep him a normal man with normal hopes that make the book work so well.
        And you really should have a go at Total War – with your tactical knowledge from your research you could kick some proper ass!
        😉

        Liked by 1 person

        • I’d have to learn how to use a controller. I’m all thumbs and I’m horribly slow. Ha ha. Thanks again for “getting” the book. That makes me feel great. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

          • babbitman says:

            Oh good grief, no. I can’t use those damn things either. It’s mainly played on a PC so if you know how to use a keyboard and mouse (and I tend to think you do) then you’re all ready 🙂
            There’s a whole Total War community out there that create their own campaigns and scenarios based on historical battles – it’s quite possible that someone could actually create playable versions of Gryff’s story.
            There’s also a couple of versions of ‘Total War: Rome’ if you ever fancy unleashing your inner Caesar or Hannibal 😉
            I first came across the prototype Roman version on a TV show back in 2003 – check this one out, it may look familiar: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vGGmA8KLsmM

            Like

            • I watched the video. They make it look so fun! I played a RPG at a sci-fi/fantasy convention a few years ago and the social aspect of it was a blast. Do you know what this would do to my writing time? Ha ha. I have the type of brain that can get immersed in these things like the free world is depending on little old me. 😀

              Liked by 1 person

              • babbitman says:

                It IS fun! But I have to admit that it can have an impact on doing something more worthwhile – after my last campaign conquering the whole of Britain (as the Welsh cos it’s hard) I’ve not played it very much. It certainly helps to understand what can happen if you send cavalry head on into a mass of spearmen – much better to engage the spearmen with your own infantry and use the cavalry to roll up the enemy from the flanks or rear! The great thing about it is that it illustrates the need for mutually supporting units. Cavalry is mobile but vulnerable to spear & heavy infantry & archers; infantry is difficult to move cohesively and needs flank cover; archers move quicker but are vulnerable to raiding horse.
                But I digress. I’ve just popped on to let you know I’ve put a review on Amazon.co.uk – https://www.amazon.co.uk/review/R9Z4I7K73TG9G/ref=pe_1572281_66412651_cm_rv_eml_rv0_rv
                Keep those awesome stories coming!

                Liked by 1 person

  2. gegrizzle says:

    Hey there. Just wondering if there is a sequel to this book? I know, it’s dangerous to let me know these things. But I really did like this book. 🙂

    Like

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