Rostov Rising: The Tales of Baron Rostov


What would you do?

If Aladdin and his gene rode by you ... worried and in a big hurry?

If a dragon so old and so powerful that it was in "Long ago ..." stories was stealing maidens from your valley?

These are the kinds of mysteries and challenges Baron Rostov faces.

Have fun ...

This is a Tales of ...

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Rostov Rising: The Tales of Baron Rostov

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What would you do?

If Aladdin and his gene rode by you ... worried and in a big hurry?

If a dragon so old and so powerful that it was in "Long ago ..." stories was stealing maidens from your valley?

These are the kinds of mysteries and challenges Baron Rostov faces.

Have fun ...

This is a Tales of Technofiction book.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781449032234
  • Publisher: AuthorHouse
  • Publication date: 8/10/2010
  • Pages: 324
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.73 (d)

Table of Contents


A Word from the "Costumer"....................xv
Chapter One: Finger Flames....................3
Chapter Two: Rostovs and Kalnichovs....................9
Chapter Three: Florence and Florina!....................13
Chapter Four: The Storm Comes to Kalzov Valley....................19
Chapter Five: Throwing a Fireball and Other Heroics....................23
Chapter Six: On to Florence, On to Rome....................25
Chapter Seven: We Make a Plan....................33
Chapter Eight: Time for Fast Action at Last!....................37
Chapter One: Anticipation....................45
Chapter Two: The Baron's Ball....................49
Chapter Three: The Peasant Picnic....................53
Chapter Four: The Surprise Trip....................59
Chapter Five: The Long Ride....................63
Chapter Six: The Stranger at the Inn....................69
Chapter Seven: Friends at the Inn....................73
Prolog: Wrapping Up Some Loose Kalnichov Ends....................79
Chapter One: The Hidden Door....................83
Chapter Two: The Magic Prince....................85
Chapter Three: The Djinni and the Bandits....................91
Chapter Four: The Zarathustran Priest....................97
Chapter Five: The Zarathustran Temple....................105
Chapter Six: The Reckoning....................107
Chapter One: A Cup of Tea....................113
Chapter Two: Fixing the Clock....................117
Chapter Three: The Engineer Speaks....................121
Chapter Four: More on John Porter....................125
Chapter Five: A Visit to Black Pass....................127
Chapter Six: The "Church of the Slaughtered Virgin"....................135
Chapter Seven: The Retreat from Dey-nom-Nazadlan....................139
Chapter Eight: A Forest Refuge....................143
Chapter Nine: Travel Time....................147
Chapter Ten: Wolf's Lair....................151
Chapter Eleven: Celesta Stokavski....................157
Chapter Twelve: Kristijan Stokavski....................161
Chapter Thirteen: The Plotters....................165
Chapter Fourteen: Return to Dey-nom-Nazadlan....................171
Chapter Fifteen: Mind Games....................175
Chapter Sixteen: Cleaning Up....................181
Chapter Seventeen: Tea Again....................185
Chapter One: Dragon Day....................199
Chapter Two: Changing Destiny....................203
Chapter Three: A Spring Bath....................209
Chapter Four: Preparing for the Choice....................221
Chapter Five: "You Have Built a Fire in Me"....................225
Chapter Six: "Can't You Kill the Dragon?"....................227
Chapter Seven: Whom to Choose?....................231
Chapter Eight: Exploring Possibilities....................233
Chapter Nine: Meeting the Dragon....................237
Chapter Ten: The Tale of Queen Almidahl and Qin Non-won....................245
Chapter Eleven: The Stakes and the Plan....................247
Chapter Twelve: The New Weapon....................251
Chapter Thirteen: The New Weapon Master....................255
Chapter Fourteen: My Herb Cellar....................259
Chapter Fifteen: Final Preparations....................265
Chapter Sixteen: The Curtain Rises....................269
Chapter Seventeen: Parting Ways....................273
Chapter One: Wolf Alley....................281
Chapter Two: Falcon's Aerie....................285
Chapter Three: The Ballroom....................287
Chapter Four: Waiting for the Angry Villagers....................289
Chapter Five: A Fool and Her Magic Are Soon Parted....................291
Chapter Six: Making a Story....................293
Chapter Seven: The Mob Comes at Last....................295
Chapter Eight: Az'sroc Appears....................297
Chapter Nine: Az'sroc Chooses....................301
Chapter Ten: Brave Jak or Lucky Jak?....................303
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First Chapter

Rostov Rising

The Tales of Baron Rostov
By Roger Bourke White Jr.


Copyright © 2010 Roger Bourke White Jr.
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4490-3223-4

Chapter One

Finger Flames

I remember the day my father first told me about the "Rostov Heritage", as he called it. I was ten years old.

We were the ruling family of the Kalzov Valley in the Balkan Peninsula. My parents were loving, but their days were filled with many duties. I saw them often, but my parents were not the ones who told me about arithmetic, or cleaning my room, or being careful of the bees that floated around the flowers in our garden. These were things I learned from nannies, tutors, and other helpers around the Rostov estates.

So it was strange when my father sent word to interrupt my afternoon studies and have me come to his den-his private library.

"I will need him only for ten minutes," he told Mr. Lupin, my tutor.

Mr. Lupin bowed and left. When we were alone, my father got out his pipe, made a strange motion, and a small flame appeared on the tip of his finger! After using it to light his pipe, he put it out. He watched for my reaction.

I was not surprised. As a child, I could play in my father's den when my studies for the day were finished, if I was quiet, and so I'd seen him do this once or twice when he forgot I was there.

I, in turn, held up my hand to my father and snapped my fingers ... faugh! Just a snap sound the first time. I tried again, and on the third try I got a little flash of flame, and a pop sound instead of a snap. Then I shook my hand hard because the flame had burned it! My father smiled and laughed.

Then, growing serious, he said, "Your tutor has told you that all men are created equal under the eyes of God, is that not so?"

I nodded yes.

"He is mostly right, but not completely so. The Rostovs, you and I, have some gifts that other men do not. Has Mr. Lupin seen you do your little trick?"

"I don't do it much, because it hurts," I said.

"Are you aware that most people can't do it?"

"I know it's special," I said, "but it's just a trick ... and it hurts. No, I haven't done it for him. I tried it after I saw you doing it."

"Well, it's probably best that you not try it for him, or talk about it with him. He probably wouldn't let you see what he felt, but he would find it very upsetting. He feels that our special abilities are part of superstition, and you know how he feels about superstition."

I liked Mr. Lupin, and I knew he strongly disliked superstitious ways, so I when my father put it in those terms, I promised myself not to tell him.

"Starting Monday, I will tutor you for an hour each day. We will talk about our special heritage and I will show you how to do your trick without getting burned. That's all for now. You can return to your studies with Michel Lupin."

That was how my initiation into the magic arts began.

I studied with both my father and Mr. Lupin for many years thereafter. It was fascinating, and frustrating, because their styles were so different. Most of the time they taught me about entirely different things, but about once a month they would talk about the same topics and I would have to remember carefully who had said what.

I respected both men, but I was a boy then, so I also grew impatient.

One day I said to Mr. Lupin, "What good is learning all this theoretical stuff? When will I use all the mathematics you are teaching me?"

I don't remember what he answered then, but the next day he took me to the edge of a forest, part of our Rostov lands, where I liked to hunt. He brought some sheaves of papers and a portable table.

He set up the table, then said to me, "Suppose a lumber merchant-a man who sells cut wood-comes to your father and says, 'I want to lease this land and harvest the trees.' And your father turns to you and says, 'What is the timber on this land worth? For what amount should we lease this land?' What do you say?"

I said, "Well ... a lot, because I would lose a nice hunting ground."

Mr. Lupin smiled. "So how much is a lot? This, my boy, is where the theory I've been teaching you becomes useful."

Mr. Lupin went on to explain how doing researches and applying geometry would help me determine how many trees were in the forest, and how many cubic meters of sawed wood they represented. Then we looked through the papers he brought along-bills of sale, shipping reports, and other records-to determine what was being paid for sawed wood in the nearest big cities around our valley. After an hour, I came up with a number for the value of the lease. When I did, Mr. Lupin smiled.

"You have learned well, but you have let the timber man cheat you out of half your deserved price.... Now, tell me why."

He often said this kind of thing, so I automatically looked over my calculations again. When I couldn't find any mistake, he pointed to the date on the report about how much wood was growing in this forest.

"Ahh ...," I said. "The report is twenty years old. The trees have grown since then."

Mr. Lupin nodded.

"And this is why you study theory: So you can let other people work for you, but you can understand what they are doing and spot their mistakes."

It was an answer I was satisfied with.

I asked the same question of my father, and, ironically, he took me to the same spot as Mr. Lupin, only we came just as dawn was lighting the landscape.

He pointed to a young fawn in the meadow next to the woods. It was doing its last grazing for the night.

"Suppose that fawn was an enemy. How would you kill it?" he asked me.

"I would use a Fireball spell. It's powerful and it's hard to miss with a Fireball."

I didn't know how to throw a Fireball spell yet, but I very much wanted to, and I was hoping that my dad would get the hint.

My father laughed a bit. "Yes, I like Fireballs, too. But ... what time of year is it?"

"September," I replied quickly. My father kept looking at me; he was waiting for more; I thought some more. After half a minute, it came to me.

"Ah ... the Fireball would certainly burn that tree the fawn was under, and perhaps start a forest fire. ... A Lightning Bolt, then. It's specific to a single target, and doesn't leave a mark."

"A much better choice. But look around, look carefully. What do you see?"

It was then that I saw Goran Andrukov sneaking in the bushes, headed for the fawn. Goran was a handsome young man, a hunter, and popular as a minstrel in the tavern of a nearby village. He was an amiable man, but he'd been caught poaching before-hunting where he wasn't supposed to hunt.

"I see Goran Andrukov. We should arrest him."

"We could. And would it suit us for him to see a Fireball, or a Lightning Bolt spell, being cast?"

"No, it wouldn't. He would spread nasty stories."

"Exactly, but there are ways to fix Goran's problem ... magic ways. Watch this ..."

Between the fawn and Goran was a bear was working over a bee's nest. So it was busy and mildly irritated, and it wouldn't simply move away if Goran shouted at it.

My father pulled out his wand and waved it slightly in the direction of the fawn. (My father liked using a wand, but he made me practice using just my hands-much more discreet in public situations.) The fawn looked up, and charged the bear. It actually butted the bear, and then rose up and hit it with its front legs! The bear looked up from the hive, and gave the fawn a swat which tossed it two meters away, then went back to scooping honey out of the hive. Goran was watching this, and even at this distance, it was clear that he was amazed at what he was seeing. My father waved his wand gently again, and the fawn seemed to regain its senses; it ran off rather than continuing its attack. He then waved his wand at Goran. Goran looked as if he had seen something important, then he began to half-sneak, half-walk away. He was clearly done here, and moving on to somewhere else.

"Mind suggestions. They are hard to beat for solving complex problems quietly," my father said. "I suggested to that fawn that it was a bee, and it needed to protect its hive. Then I suggested to Goran that he had seen thorn apple in the meadow, which would explain the fawn's crazy actions-thorn apple's nickname among the farmers is devil's weed. And, equally useful to solving this problem, if the fawn had been eating thorn apple, its meat was tainted. Goran doesn't want to bring home poisoned meat, so he will hunt elsewhere, and it will be a long time before he comes back."

My jaw dropped. Wow! What a solution! I understood much better what both my father and Mr. Lupin were trying to teach me, and my respect for both of them grew steadily.

Chapter Two

Rostovs and Kalnichovs

Over the years, I found that both Mr. Lupin and my father could come up with good solutions to problems, but the tools they used were quite different. Mr. Lupin's teaching emphasized what machines plus organized manpower could accomplish. He talked a lot about the coming revolution in industry, as he called it.

"In France and England, men-ordinary men, common men-accomplish so much more by using steam-powered machines to help them. They are truly astonishing wonders. Someday you must bring the wonders of this man-plus-machine revolution to your Kalzov Valley here. It is the way of reason, and the way of the future."

My father, on the other hand, looked into the hearts of men and sought the assistance of other magical creatures.

He told me, "You can accomplish much by using the magic arts to protect and guide the people of this valley, by using our abilities to understand men better and control their circumstances. You will be their Baron and they will count on you to make their lives better. So master your special abilities and form alliances with the many magical forest people who live here. Thus you will make our Kalzov Valley a better place for mankind."

The one counted on motivating many people to work for the same objective, the other counted on building one's personal ability, and using that ability with great effect. Their techniques were very different indeed.

As my learning grew, my abilities grew, but I noticed a difference between what I learned from Mr. Lupin and what I learned from my father. By age twelve, I could sense that someday, if I continued to study hard, I would equal Mr. Lupin. But I didn't have that sense with my father.

On some days, after a frustrating session with my father, I would stare at my hands and think, "These hands will never produce the magic that my father is producing. Something is missing. I'm hopeless."

By age fourteen, that divided sense of what I could accomplish was strong enough that I strongly considered giving up my magic studies to concentrate on Mr. Lupin's more material-oriented science.

One Monday, after a previous week of difficult lessons, I started my lesson with my father by proposing that. I finished with, "I just can't do what you can do, and I don't think I ever will!"

My father's eyes drilled silently through me for close to a minute. His face changed as he made a choice. "Perhaps it is time to talk more about Rostov history," he said quietly. "I have talked to you often about the blessing we have from the Pope in Rome to protect this valley. And how every Pope is a powerful cleric, even though he is not our Patriarch."

"You have," I said.

"How many relatives do you have with our special ability? How many uncles, nephews, and cousins?"

"... None that I know of. In fact, I have no uncles, nephews, or cousins."

"That, my son, is a big problem, although we don't talk about it much. The Pope's Blessing, whatever good it has done for this valley and our family, has done nothing to make the Rostov family ... fruitful ... to have many children. Ever since you were born in the first year of our marriage, your mother and I have tried hard, but you have been our only child, our only heritage. Now, how many Kalnichovs are there?"

"... No one knows exactly, but many. Too many for them all to live together."

The Kalnichovs were the dark and secretive family that ruled the northern part of our Kalzov Valley. People moved and traded quite freely between Rostov and Kalnichov territory, but many people living in the south part of the valley, our part, said the Kalnichovs were allied with dark forces. My father "tut-tutted" when our people asked him about such an alliance, but in private he told me that, yes, it existed, but he did not discuss its details.

"Exactly. Their dark alliance has made them fruitful. And we are not. I was the last of the Rostov line until you were born."

He smiled at me with the great pride in his heart showing through. Then his face saddened. "As far as the Kalnichovs are concerned, they have won."

His face saddened even more and grew angry as he continued, "They let me live and rule this south end of the valley because they see me as a small threat. They feel that if I am unseated more powerful good forces will take notice of this valley and act, and their own position will weaken. I am not proud that I accept this situation, but I would be less proud if I were dead."

He looked down for a minute, silently, then continued.

"You are a small unknown to them. They have watched to see if you have the Rostov heritage, to see if you are a serious threat to them. So far, you have done nothing special in public, so they are lulled into feeling they need to take no action. Lulling them was large in my thinking when I invited Mr. Lupin to be your tutor. He is a man of natural science, which the Kalnichovs dislike as much as Mr. Lupin dislikes superstition, and they see no threat in lowly steam engines run by lowly peasants. They feel that if I picked him to tutor you it is because you have no special heritage to train and grow."

He looked up at me again.

"Protecting you is why I have kept some secrets from you. That is why I seem to do so much more magic than you can do. I will continue to keep those secrets for a while, but now that I know you can see their effect I will not hold off much longer. However, there are other things you must study first, and these other things will soon demand your full attention.

"I worry even as I tell you this, but soon you must study the world outside this valley we call home. The world is a big, strange place and many young sons have been lost to their parents by its temptations."

"Lost? As in killed?" I asked. This seemed a strange way to look at the outside world. And why would my father send me to a place where I might easily die?

My father's face lightened and he laughed. "No, no! Lost as in having the son say, 'These other places are so fascinating and I do so well, I won't go home.' The sons indeed do well, but they are not with their parents to lighten their days."

I was relieved, because Mr. Lupin and I had talked a lot about the outside world and I was looking forward to seeing it.

A few weeks later, my father came to where Mr. Lupin and I were studying. Mr. Lupin bowed to him.

"It is time to tell my son what comes next," my father said to Mr. Lupin. Then he turned to me and said, "This is something Mr. Lupin and I have been discussing for a long time. When I went into the outside world, I studied in Rome, and many of your ancestors studied in Constantinople. These are the two cultural centers of the world.

"But Mr. Lupin has strongly recommended you study in Florence instead. He says the city has become a center of the natural and physical sciences; if you are to be well-versed in them, studying in Florence will serve your interests best.

"This goes against my instinct, which would send you to Rome. But I will take his advice in this matter. This fall, Mr. Lupin will accompany you to Florence. In a few years, you will become the most learned person in our valley!"

Later, when we were alone, my father promised, "When you return from your studies in Florence, I will teach you my last secrets."

And that was how my first adventures in the outside world began.

Chapter Three

Florence and Florina!

There was adventure on the trip to Florence. I was eighteen when I traveled there with Mr. Lupin in the train of a merchant whom my father trusted. Our company was threatened twice by bandits, but its master was wise and experienced and we completed the journey without disaster. I thought that trip was great adventure, until I got to Florence and started roaming its streets. Now that turned out to be adventure!

Ah, Florence! So many people. So many kinds of people! Rich and poor, smart and stupid, lordly and humble-from Florence, of course but also many from the rest of Tuscany, who did not consider themselves Florentines, and from faraway places, like Sicily and Tunisia, Sardinia and Corsica, Lombardy, France ... so many places!


Excerpted from Rostov Rising by Roger Bourke White Jr. Copyright © 2010 by Roger Bourke White Jr.. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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  • Posted May 21, 2012

    Technofiction review of Rostov Rising

    Rostov rising is White’s contribution to the fantasy genre – it is Technofantasy. This means that the magic and motivations in the stories are internally consistent, and wrapped around a good story filled with interesting characters. The book is a series of tales centering on Baron Iglacias Rostov, the magic using ruler of the Kalzov valley, located in the Balkans, and taking place as the Renaissance is flowering in Italy. According to White, “Being in this setting lets the Baron interact with many different cultures and ideas. His stories swirl with a mix of Western and Eastern Christian and Muslim Turkish influences. All the while his is also dealing with the primordial magic of this remote valley where nymphs, dryads and many more magical creatures abound, plus he is well versed in natural sciences from getting an education in Florence, and he can travel to various planes of magical existence. It’s a mix that makes for some very interesting tales.” In these tales the Baron meets up with some classic fantasy characters. In one, he meets Aladdin with his lamp and his genie. In another he faces off against a clever old dragon who is stealing beautiful maidens from his valley. But when the Baron faces these classic fantasy foes, the story that comes out is completely different! And lots of fun. Rostov Rising is for those who like fantasy, but want to read stories that have compelling characters and good internal consistency – in Rostov Rising, the bad guys have good reason for doing what they do, too, and it’s not something as ho-hum as, “I want to rule the universe! Mwwahahah!” It’s a good read, you’ll have fun with it.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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