Read an Excerpt
Beneath the Forsaken City
By C. E. Laureano
Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2015 Carla Yvonne Laureano
All rights reserved.
Conor Mac Nir leaned against the railing of the Resolute in the dark, watching the choppy seas splash along the cog's wooden hull. Overhead, storm clouds roiled, threatening to unleash their fury on the small ship. Squalls on the Amantine Sea were hardly unusual, but this one had hovered for nearly two days, circling like a bird of prey. No natural storm behaved this way, which left only the other, more unsettling explanation.
The druid is dead. I saw him fall. No one could have survived a wound like that.
Yet, after all they had been through, the memory held little reassurance. He'd seen the extent of the druid's powers before they fled Seare. Diarmuid commanded his warriors with sorcery and compelled the creatures of the mist to do his bidding. Conor's uncle may have begun the bloody war that laid waste to the island, but the druid controlled it. Conor could not deny the possibility that the sorcerer had once more cheated death.
Conor cast a glance back to the passenger cabin beneath the bulkhead, where his new wife, Aine, still slept peacefully. Taking her back to her birthplace would keep her safe for only so long. Her visions implied that the druid had a far larger plan than the mere conquest of their tiny island. It was only a matter of time before war touched Aron as well.
Unless I stop it.
A sudden gust whipped his blond hair from his braid, and the first drops of rain spattered down on him. He should go inside before the storm worsened, hold his wife, and enjoy their last few days together, but Aine was far too perceptive. She would look into his eyes and know what troubled him. He rested his forehead on the cool, damp railing and let out a sigh.
"I think it's watching us."
He jerked his head up again. Aine stood beside him on the deck, her honey-colored hair blowing loosely around her shoulders. His breath stilled for a moment. Even in the ill-fitting dress she had scavenged in their flight, her eyes shadowed by exhaustion and anxiety, she was breathtaking.
Perhaps all men felt that way about their wives. Or perhaps it was just the knowledge of the even greater obstacles awaiting him that made him want to remember every moment of their short reunion.
"Do you sense something?" he asked, looking back out onto the choppy sea.
Aine ducked beneath his arm and lifted her face to the sky. "It feels wrong. But that could just be my own worry."
Not likely. They both possessed gifts of Balus. While his gift allowed him to transform the language of music into magic, hers gave her, among other things, an awareness of the power that surrounded them, light or dark. Her sense of the storm's wrongness only confirmed his suspicion about the source.
The smattering of raindrops increased to a steady rain, and Conor squinted at the sky, wondering if the storm could possibly know their thoughts.
"Come inside before we both get soaked." Aine laced her fingers through his and tugged him back toward the cabin.
He followed her, ducking beneath the low frame, and shut the door firmly behind them. Dim lamplight illuminated the tiny berth: wood-paneled walls, a narrow bunk, a single stool affixed to the floor. He'd begun to think of the ship's cabin as a haven, isolated from the worries outside. Here they were ordinary newlyweds, beginning their life together, not storing up memories for a separation that might become permanent.
"You're wet." Aine gestured for him to hold up his arms and pulled the damp tunic off over his head. Her hands lingered on his shoulders and then softly slid down his chest.
"You're trying to distract me."
"I'm assessing your injuries," she said sternly, but her lips quivered against a smile. Then she sucked in her breath, and her playful manner slipped. "I don't believe it."
Conor looked down at himself, startled. Two days ago, his body had been mottled with blue and purple bruises left from almost constant travel and fighting. Yesterday they had already faded to the yellow and green that indicated healing.
Today they were gone, as if they had never existed.
Aine lifted her gaze in surprise and then turned him to examine the gash on his arm, the one he'd gotten when fighting their way free of his uncle's fortress. The stitches were still in place, but where the wound had been now lay only a weal of healed skin.
"How is this possible?"
Conor shook his head. It shouldn't be. He'd never shown any particular inclination toward fast healing. Then again, during his time with the Fíréin brotherhood, he'd discovered a number of things about himself that shouldn't be possible.
"What do we do now that it's healed around the stitches?" he asked.
"The gut will dissolve on the inside. I can try to cut the bits on the surface, but it will hurt if I have only a dagger."
"It can wait until we make landfall." The idea of cutting tiny stitches with a sharp blade on a pitching ship didn't sound appealing. Conor grinned at her. "Besides, I can think of better ways to use our time."
Aine blushed, but she lifted her face to accept his kiss. He spun her around and pulled her onto his lap on the narrow berth, his arms tightening around her.
She stilled and looked into his eyes. "You're going back, aren't you?"
His heart lurched. Right now, the last thing he wanted to think about was leaving her. He forced his muscles to relax. "If I can find the harp and rebuild the wards, it will cripple their forces. It's my responsibility."
"I know. Whatever happens, just remember I love you."
"And you are my world, Aine. Never forget that."
He kissed her again, and his resolve slipped. It wasn't right. He'd given her up once with the intention of doing his duty to Seare, and where had that led? They'd been betrayed, Conor nearly killed, and Aine kidnapped. They'd barely eluded Diarmuid's grasp, and for all Conor's trouble, he was no closer to finding Meallachán's harp, the object of power he needed to rebuild the wards. If he'd only kept her close, men wouldn't have died needlessly protecting her.
Aine was his wife now. That made her his responsibility, didn't it? What kind of man was he if he abandoned her?
The ship jerked sharply, and Conor thrust out an arm against the bulkhead to keep them in the berth. The movement was followed by a drop in the other direction. Overhead, the tap of raindrops turned into a deafening roar.
"I should see if they need an extra set of hands." Conor eased her onto the bunk beside him and reached for his tunic. He shrugged it on and then leaned over and dropped a light kiss on her lips. "I'll be back."
The situation on deck was worse than Conor had expected. He slipped and slid across the wood as sheets of rain poured down on him. A jagged fork of lightning split the sky, followed by a crash of thunder that nearly vibrated him off his feet. The deck tilted at an odd angle, and he went down on one knee. When the ship righted itself, he struggled to his feet and made his way toward the stern.
Captain Ui Brollacháin braced himself on the starboard side, feet spread, attempting to hold the rudder steady amidst the chaos.
"What can I do?" Conor shouted.
The captain gestured to where crewmen fought the wind's pull on the ungainly square sail. Conor started toward them as a huge wave crashed over the port rail. Water swirled around his calves and nearly swept his feet out from under him, but still he slogged forward.
Foreboding prickled the back of his neck. He glanced over his shoulder, and his blood turned to ice. Aine clung to the cabin's open door, her hair and clothes plastered to her by the driving rain, water rushing around her feet. Her lips moved, but her shout was lost on the wind.
"Stay there!" he yelled as he made his way back to her. "Go back inside!"
Conor was nearly within arm's reach when a huge wave abruptly turned the ship sideways. He hit the deck hard and skidded toward the railing, grabbing a coil of rope to slow his slide. Aine scrabbled for a handhold, but her fingers just scraped over the slick decking. A scream ripped from her as the flow of water carried her over the rail.
The ship shifted back to level. Conor scrambled to the side in time to see Aine surface between the massive swells, surrounded by jetsam and pieces of splintered wood.
She can't swim.
The terrified thought crystallized in his mind, blotting out all else. Without stopping to consider the wisdom of his action, he clambered over the rail and dove cleanly away from the ship.
The impact of the water momentarily stunned him. Instantly, the cold curled through his extremities as the churning waves bore him downward. It took him several moments to figure out which direction was up. He broke the surface with a gasp and threw a panicked glance around him.
There. She was still above water, but the terrified look on her face said she wouldn't last long.
Conor swam against the pull of the water with powerful overhand strokes until she was within arm's reach. But each time he came near enough to grasp her hand, the swell carried him backward again. When her head dipped below the water, it took longer for her to resurface.
Then, finally, the water gathered beneath him, promising to carry him that last inch to her side.
"Grab my hand!" he shouted.
His fingers slid over her wet skin and then held. But before he could pull her to him, a wave crashed over him with the force of a war hammer, breaking his grip. Aine slipped from his grasp, taking with her his hope and his last shred of consciousness, everything but the roiling blackness of the sea.
Excerpted from Beneath the Forsaken City by C. E. Laureano. Copyright © 2015 Carla Yvonne Laureano. Excerpted by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
BENEATH THE FORSAKEN CITY is just as thrilling as the first book, The Oath of the Brotherhood, and the ending was not at all predictable. I absolutely HAVE to read the next book in the series, The Sword and the Song, now. Parts of this were really, really frightening, and I couldn't put this book down at all. I recommend reading the first book, The Oath of the Brotherhood, to understand what happens in BENEATH THE FORSAKEN CITY. This series doesn't stand alone. Great book, great series.
Another great job!!
In books today, the Christian faith is commonly depicted in a real life setting. However, author C.E. Laureano uniquely depicts the Christian faith through the genre of fantasy. In Laureano’s book Beneath the Forsaken City, the heroes and brotherhood wholly devote their lives to the service of Comdiu, who represents the Lord of the Christian faith. In the story, Aine, the heroine, a nobleman’s daughter, and a newlywed, finds herself chased by a tyrant king and betrayed by a covetous aunt. Entirely alone, Aine asks, “Could Comdiu have allowed her isolation as a lesson in trust?” All her life, Aine trusted that Comdiu’s protection was provided through guards, friends, and a husband, which became her expectation. However, she is placed in a situation that challenges her to critically examine her faith and learn that the Lord’s provision is not according to her expectations. As a Christian, I have asked myself the same question. I believe God guides us through specific trials to teach us trust as well as to open our eyes to His expectations for our life. For Aine, her challenges help her to trust Comdui’s omnipotence, just like our trials as Christians help us trust God’s omnipotence. (reviewed by S.Fowler) A complimentary copy was provided to facilitate this review.
C.E.Laureano creates an intriguing story starting with the first book in the series "Oath of the Brotherhood". This book captured my attention and drew me into the magic and mystery of the characters, the setting and the clans of this ancient island. When the first book ended, I couldn't wait to read "Beneath The Forsaken City" to see if it continued the struggles of Aine and Connor or if the author expanded the other characters. I was not disappointed because the existing characters continued to develop along with meeting new characters. The Christian parallels of good and evil are ancient but so relevant in modern times. It is a fast read because you don't want to put it down! I haven't read a fantasy book in a long time and these two have made me a fan of this genre. I can't wait for the 3rd book!
C.E. Laureano in her new book “Beneath the Forsaken City” Book Two in The Song Of Seare series published by NavPress continues the adventure with Conor and Aine From the back cover: A Storm on the Horizon. A Brotherhood Scattered. A Future Denied. Who will Stand Against the Darkness? Conor and Aine have barely escaped Seare with their lives. Conor knows he must return to find the harp that could end the Red Druid’s reign of terror, but in the midst of their escape, he and Aine are torn apart once more. Surrounded by despair and thrown into as much danger as they left behind, Conor and Aine must cling to the whispers of Comdiu’s plans for them and the homeland that depends on their survival. But at what cost? Will they learn to depend on Comdiu completely? Or will they give up hope? In any good three act play the second act is always darker than the other two. Act One generally introduces everyone and gets the action going, Act Two is where the action really takes off and tit seems the bad guy has the upper hand and Act Three is where the hero rallies and wins the day. “Beneath the Forsaken City” is Book Two in the series and the action really takes off. The Red Druid is causing a reign of terror and they both know they are going to have to go back to Seare to stop him. Along the way they are separated and neither knows if the other is still alive or if they will ever be reunited. Ms. Laureano has given us a very exciting story filled with high drama. She has also given us plenty to think about as she shows us the need to press close to God for His support and His guidance. Great stuff! I am so looking forward to Book Three and seeing how this is all going to work out. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from NavPress. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Laureano crafts an amazing world full of twists and turns. This book had me quickly turning pages, biting my nails, and crossing my fingers for the outcome I wanted. Very well done! Fantasy fans will delight in this book and author. I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.
Beneath the Forsaken City The Song of Seare 2 By C.E. Laureano Having escaped Conor and Aine are again separated by circumstances beyond their control. Each struggles with the possibility that the other may be dead, while at the same time facing a period of testing. Testing that will reveal just how strong their trust and faith in Comdiu truly is. Having helped Conor and Aine escape, Eoghan returns to the brotherhood to resume his place and to accept whatever punishment Liam deems applicable to his crime. War is coming and the sidhe are growing in influence over those who have rejected Comdiu. Keondric's power is growing as his forces prepare to assault Ard Dhaimhin and capture the ancient secrets it protects. It is during this time that new gifts among Comdiu's followers are discovered. Gifts that are needed to preserve what is and to restore that which has been lost. But can the gifts be seen for what they truly are or will they be used for individual gain? Beneath the Forsaken City is a time of loss and a time of learning. Conor, Aine and Eoghan must learn what their own weaknesses are and that their true strength lies not in the gifts Comdiu has given, but in Comdiu himself. And unfortunately some lessons are are costly. Beneath the Forsaken City picks up where Oath of the Brotherhood left off. And to truly grasp and understand the second book in The Song of Seare series you need to read the books in order as many references are made to incidents that happened prior. This is an exciting and thoughtful book. It will keep your attention from the opening sentence, "Conor Mac Nir leaned against the railing of the Resolute in the dark, watching the choppy seas splash along the cog's wooden hull." until the last sentence, "You are." And between these two sentences exist words that will pull you into the world of Seare. Fans of Tolkien, C.S. Lewis and George MacDonald have a new world to explore - Seare. Tyndale House Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book through their blog network in exchange for my honest review.
I read the 1st book in The Song of Seare trilogy and loved it, even though I didn't think I'd like Christian fantasy. It was really great because it was set in the Dark Ages and I love reading about that era. Now, I've read the 2nd book in the series, Beneath the Forsaken City. This one was amazingly good! It truly deserves more than the 5 stars I'm allowed to give it. This books takes up where the first left off and hits the ground running and never lets up. Even to the last sentence. Now I'm left to sit on pins and needles until the 3rd and final book comes out in the fall. Beaneath the Forsaken City is set in the Dark Ages, in a time of myth, magic and sorcery. There are some, however, who believe in the true god, Comdiu and His Son, Balus. This book takes the reader on a journey both frightening and thrilling at the same time. Conor and Aine have just barely escaped Seare before being killed. Married by the captain of the vessel in which they leave, they hope for a new life that is happy, but fear the worst because of the war back in their homeland. Soon, they are parted again cruelly, each left to wonder long months if the other is even alive. Conor knows he must return to Seare at some point to find the harp and hopefully end the reign of terror began by the malicious Red Druid. Aine, too, knows that she must return to find Conor for their future lies in Seare. Both despair of on their own and find themselves in grave danger. The enemy tries to kill their love for one another and their hope in Comdiu. The danger is from both mortal and sorcery avenues. Will Conor and Aine give in to the despair surrounding them or will they trust Comdiu to fulfill His plans for their lives? Even if it means they never see each other again? C.E.Laureano weaves a tale full and rich that draws the reader in from the very first sentences and does not let go, even when the book ends! Because you're so desperately longing for the third book to see what happens! She has created a land much as Tolkien created Middle Earth. She has also created characters that get down into your heart, characters that leave you thinking about them long after you finish the book. I am finding it hard to pick up another book because I'm still concentrating on the folks in Beneath The Forsaken City. I don't want to leave them, actually. As a matter of fact, I re-read Oath of the Brotherhood before reading this second novel because I wanted to refresh my memory. I'll probably re-read both the first two before I read the third and final book, too. The authors draws the reader into the story so well that I felt as if I were there, seeing the destruction, feeling the dismay and heartache. This was a mighty fine book and I hated to see it end, but I'm very much looking forward to book three. Very well written novel, one that made me think about my own relationship with God and how I react to Him during difficult times. I guarantee you will not be disappointed with either book. If you do read them, you must start with Oath of the Brotherhood; otherwise the second book will not make sense. *I was given a copy of the book by the publisher in exchange for my honest review, which I have given.