More than a thousand years ago, the king of Appernysia banished the Rayders to the Exile. The Beholders, men with the ability to see and harness the world’s energy, were slaughtered, and the Second Age began without magic. Now, ruthless Rayder scouts are searching Appernysia for a Beholder to lead their people to victory against the Appernysian king. When Rayders come to Pree, twins Lon and Mellai Marcs are caught in the middle of an ancient conflict. Seventeen-year-old Lon discovers he is a Beholder—the first of the Second Age—and the one the Rayders are searching for. Lon must learn to use his power before it kills him, but the only person who can help him is deep within Rayder territory. He must decide if keeping himself alive is incentive enough to betray his family, his king, and the woman he loves by joining the enemy.
About the Author
Terron James is an English teacher and a member and former president of the Tooele chapter of the League of Utah Writers. He lives in Tooele, Utah.
Read an Excerpt
By Terron James
Jolly Fish PressCopyright © 2013 Jolly Fish Press, LLC
All rights reserved.
IN THE DARK
* * *
Gil wiped the blood from his dagger, then joined his four comrades around their small fire. "Keep your voices down, Rayders. Have you forgotten why we have traveled so far?"
"No, Lieutenant," his men whispered as they squinted at him through the light of the setting sun. They each saluted, touching two fingers to their right temples.
The four members of Gil's squad were young recruits, but his commander had ignored that fact. The rumors surging throughout Appernysia were too significant. A month earlier, every available scout had been dispatched from the Rayder Exile, their banished homeland, to find the Beholder and capture him.
Gil tossed a chunk of meat onto a large rock in the middle of the fire. "Do you know anything about this village?"
Gil knew their answer before they gave it, but it still angered him to see his men shake their heads. He never understood why his commander kept so much information to himself. As Rayders, the village of Pree played a significant part of their history and society. Their own weapon master was from that village.
"We Rayders have avoided Pree for ten years," Gil said, "because the last infiltration squad kidnapped a boy and murdered his family. That squad was arrogant and foolhardy. They did not think before they acted. Most importantly, they forgot the importance of stealth."
Gil drew his arming sword, pierced the sizzling meat, and flipped it over on the rock. "A decade has passed, but I guarantee these villagers will be on the lookout for us, especially after last night ..."
He glanced pointedly at the butchered remains of a cow. They had run out of food on their month-long journey to Pree and were forced to steal a village cow for meat.
"We will be hard-pressed to keep our presence a secret."
One of his men leaned forward with obvious concern on his young face. "What is the plan, Lieutenant?"
"It is getting dark," Gil replied as he stood. "You four stay here while I search through town."
"What will you do if you find the Beholder?"
Gil looked west, ignoring the steady buzz of flies hovering over the cow carcass. "I will return to camp and give you further instructions ... unless I am forced to capture him myself."
His four men glanced at each other with surprise.
"Is that even possible?" Drake, the boldest of the four recruits, asked.
"My heart tells me we will know soon enough," Gil answered.
"What if someone spots you, Lieutenant?" Drake pressed.
Gil sheathed his sword, tucked his tunic into his leather belt, and pulled the hood of his dark wool cloak over his head. "I will silence them. Permanently."
"Please leave her father out of this," Lon Marcs pleaded as he pulled his gaze away from Kaylen's log home and caught up to his sister. "It's been hard enough trying to convince him to let me court Kaylen without your interference. The last thing I need right now is you causing him unnecessary worry — especially with two of his cows missing. If they don't turn up soon, our whole village is going to feel it."
Mellai ignored him as they continued home. Her long linen dress hovered inches above the dirt road, jostling slightly with every stride. Mellai turned her head and let the final rays of the setting sun soak her face, her brown curls tied casually behind her head with a red ribbon. A wolf howled in the distance, and a local dog immediately answered with a diatribe of furious barking.
When the twins neared the south bridge, they crossed paths with Myron Ascennor — an aged vagrant who had been wandering the village for more than ten years. They greeted him, but Myron only mumbled to himself and stared at the ground as he shuffled past on his bony legs; it was his typical response to any kind of social interaction.
"You just wait," Myron said. "I've set a trap. I'll kill you all. I'm faster than a chicken with a donkey and a fish. You just wait."
Mellai smirked, but Lon gave her a look of warning. He was tolerant of most of her inappropriate jokes, but making fun of Myron was something he wouldn't allow. His irritated scolding might have angered her, but because of their unique emotional bond, Mellai understood exactly where Lon was coming from. She couldn't imagine how it must have felt for Myron to lose his entire family in one day, nor could Mellai guess how she would react if the same thing happened to her. The sudden loss of her grandparents five years earlier had been hard enough.
Myron disappeared and the twins continued on. As they crossed the south bridge, a cow's lowing caught their attention.
"Sounds like we found one of Scut's cows," Lon said with a smile as he left the road, climbing down to the riverbank. Mellai stayed put and tapped her foot impatiently.
"Come down here, Mellai."
"Not a chance."
"I'm not playing, Mel. Get down here now."
Alarmed by the urgency in her brother's voice, Mellai followed his path carefully down the embankment to avoid tripping on foliage. When she reached the bottom, Mellai followed Lon's blue-eyed gaze to the opposite bank of the river. There stood one of Scut's missing cows, lazily munching on the high grass that tickled its belly. Cows had slipped out of Scut's corral before and usually ended up somewhere along the river's edge, so the sight was not unusual.
"You need to relax, Lon," Mellai scolded, "or you'll give yourself another headache. Why did you ..." Her voice trailed off as she saw the thick hemp rope tied around the cow's neck. The other end was lashed to one of the bridge's beams.
Mellai's brown eyes narrowed and she looked up at her brother. Though they were twins, Lon stood more than a head taller than her short, five-foot stature.
"It must have been Myron," she said. "Remember what he said about setting a trap? He's not thinking straight, Lon, and besides us, nobody travels south of Pree. Who else would have tied the cow here?"
Before Lon could answer, a sudden dread fell over Mellai. She could see and feel the same terror in Lon. They froze, fear rooting them to the spot. They cast their gaze up and down the river, searching for the source of their unsettling suspicion. Just then, the wooden slats of the bridge creaked as someone crossed overhead.
The twins held their breath as the mysterious person continued across the bridge. Ten anxious steps, then on toward Pree, but the footfalls halted when the ignorant cow bellowed again. Lon pulled Mellai down into the thick undergrowth just in time. Peeking through the grass, Mellai saw a man step off the bridge on the opposite bank. He wore a heavy cloak with the hood pulled low over his face. As he slid down the embankment, Mellai caught sight of his hand wrapped around the grip of a hidden sword.
Mellai's heart skipped.
The man moved cautiously along the bank, glancing up and down the river for the cow's owner. As he stepped around the cow, it turned for another mouthful of fresh grass and knocked him into the deep river. He flailed around as his heavy clothes fought to drag him under, but he finally managed to catch hold of a large boulder and climb to safety.
The man paused on the riverbank, his wet cloak clinging to his face and body. Once he had regained his composure, the man walked up to the cow, pulled out a dagger, and slit its throat. The cow toppled over and thrashed in the yellow grass.
The man jumped back, nearly falling into the river again. He cursed and peeled off the wet hood.
A chill ran down Mellai's spine when she saw the right side of his face. "Is that a —" she started to ask, but Lon slapped his hand over her mouth.
The man's hand slid inside his cloak as he glanced in their direction. Mellai and her brother froze, afraid to even blink. After what seemed an eternity, the man turned away and walked to the cow. He kicked it hard, then stepped around it and continued east along the northern bank.
Mellai squirmed to free herself from Lon's grip, but he held her tight. Desperate to flee, Mellai sank her teeth into his arm.
Lon ripped his arm away, and Mellai leaped from her hiding spot. She clawed at the side of the embankment, struggling to find a good foothold. Lon caught up to her and helped his sister up the hill. Just as they reached the top, Mellai kicked loose a large rock. She turned and watched the stone bounce down the embankment and splash in the river.
The loud noise startled the intruder. He turned with a drawn sword in his hand. When he saw the twins standing atop the riverbank, he shifted his gaze between Mellai and her brother, took a few calculated steps in their direction, then seemed to change his mind. After sliding his sword into the leather scabbard at his waist, he turned back east, running at full speed along the riverbank.
"Come on," Lon urged, pulling Mellai to her feet and pushing her into a run. "We need to get out of here." They hurried down the dirt path toward their home; Lon took his sister by the hand to help her keep up.
"Did you see it, Lon?" Mellai asked. "I know it's getting dark, but please tell me you saw the marking on his face."
Lon only nodded, but that's all that was necessary. Mellai already knew Lon's answer before she had asked. She had felt his fear, which only added to her own.
"Why did he kill that cow?" Mellai panted as they fled.
"I don't know. It was probably just in the wrong place at the wrong time."
The further they pushed into the woods, the more Mellai's strength faded. Her legs struggled to keep up with her brother's long strides as they hurried along the dirt path through a thicket of juniper trees and wild grass. Yet, she knew if they continued just a little farther, they would be safe in their house; she forced herself to keep putting one foot in front of the other.
Lon eventually slowed his pace and gave her an encouraging smile. Although she knew her brother was just as terrified, she appreciated his effort to calm her. People rarely considered Mellai's feelings, mostly because she rarely considered theirs. Their parents and Kaylen, her only true friend, were the only people whom she treated with respect, and who respected her, apart from Lon.
They sprinted for half a mile until they finally reached the wooden rail fence surrounding their two acres of cleared property. The light of the setting sun had completely faded and the twins were both glad to be out of the dark woods. They paused outside the gate and leaned against the fence, gasping for air.
"That ... was quite a run," Lon said between breaths, forcing a smile. "We should do this ... more often."
Mellai ignored her brother. She was still shaking from their close encounter at the bridge. She placed her free hand on the fence and closed her eyes, inhaling deeply to calm herself while her short hair fell over her face.
When the twins were both breathing normally again, Lon opened the wooden gate for his sister. "C'mon. Mother and Father are waiting for us."
With fingers interlocked, they crossed through the gate toward their two-level frame house.
When the Marcs had originally arrived in Pree, the villagers were cold and unwelcoming — partially because the Marcs refused to divulge where they had come from or why they'd left. Rather than arouse resentment by demanding the village's respect, the Marcs built a small log house south of the Klanorean River at the base of a large hill. It took Lon and his father, Aron, two years of selfless service to Scut Shaw, the village dairy farmer, before their family gained the trust of the whole village. The Marcs were eventually invited to relocate their home inside the village boundaries, much to the delight of both Lon and Mellai. But their father had politely declined, pointing out that their new, frame house was nearly finished.
As Lon and Mellai approached the house, Mellai eyed the small donkey cart standing near the door. The image of a hammer and anvil had been etched into the side of the cart, which belonged to the village blacksmith.
Lon tightened his grip on Mellai's hand and pulled her toward the front door. "Mellai, only Mother and Father can know what we saw tonight. We just need to finish dinner with the Pulchrias. Pretend to have a good time — or better yet, pretend you're in one of your bad moods. Will you do that for me, please?"
"Lon, you know that I —" Mellai began, but her words turned to a squeak as Lon pinched her waist. Her look of shock transformed into a furious glare.
"There now, that's much better," Lon teased with a wink. "Thanks for your concerted effort, Little Sis." He opened the front door and entered their home.
The Marcs spent most of their time on the main level of their house. It was large and open, with a sitting area and fireplace on one side, and the kitchen and dining area on the other. Two small bedrooms also extended from the back of the house. Their parents slept in one and Mellai in the other. Lon preferred to curl up on a bedroll in front of the fireplace.
The aroma of roasted chicken and spiced potatoes filled Lon's nose. He loved having an herbalist as his mother. Not only was Shalán a skilled healer, she also knew exactly which spices would best complement the food she prepared. A meal at the Marcs home had become a coveted prize in Pree, but Shalán invited people over for one purpose only — to find a husband for her daughter.
Lon smiled at their guests, all sitting on wooden chairs near the fireplace. Hans Pulchria was an experienced blacksmith, with strong hands and broad shoulders. He said very little, though that might have been because his wife, Ine, hardly ever stopped talking. She was heavyset, bubbly, and the source of almost all the village gossip. Overall, they were pleasant company. Lon knew that even Mellai wouldn't have minded visiting with them for the evening — if it had only been the two of them.
Lon heaved a sigh when he saw their son, Braedr, slouched in his chair, a smug look plastered on his face. Like his father, Braedr was tall and muscular, but he lacked his father's respectful manner. Lon suspected he was too used to getting his way, perhaps because he was an only child. In Lon's eyes, there was no one more arrogant or selfish in all of Appernysia. Every decision Braedr made was calculated to build himself up in the eyes of the villagers so he could exploit them. He always had some sort of alternate agenda. Always.
"Good evening, Master Lon," Hans said.
"Good evening, Master Hans," Lon responded awkwardly — only a few days left before he turned seventeen, he wasn't old enough to be called Master — and ran a hand through his curly brown hair. He turned his gaze to Ine and smiled. "Good evening to you, too, Lady Ine. I hope your journey here was comfortable."
"Now look what you've started, Hans," Ine said as her cheeks flushed pink. "I won't have this turned into an intolerable evening of outlandish formalities. Address me for who I am, Lon — the wife of a blacksmith. I'm not, nor do I ever wish to be, a lady. Good gracious me, what a horrid thought."
"Well spoken, Ine," Shalán called from across the room. "What woman would ever wish to be a lady?"
"Perhaps one who wishes for an easier life," Braedr said as he rose from his chair, "free from suffering and toil. I'm sure Mellai agrees with me."
Braedr crossed the room to Mellai, who stood in the doorway with her mouth pulled tight in an unreadable expression. He took her hand and spoke in a voice too gentle for his stature.
"Hello, Mellai. I'm honored to be sharing supper with you tonight."
"Good evening, Braedr," Mellai said flatly as she pulled her hand free. "I assume your parents will be eating with us, too?"
"Of course, we will, my darling," Ine responded. "We mustn't let all of this wonderful food go to waste on just the two of you. What do you say we start eating, hmm?"
"Now Ine, we prefer our guests be honest with us," Aron teased. "If you wanted a sample of my wife's cooking, why didn't you just say so?"
Ine flushed in embarrassment, looking anxiously toward the front door. Shalán intervened. "You'll have to excuse my husband," she said, giving Aron a reproving glance. "He loves to make people uncomfortable. I keep telling him it's going to get him into trouble some day."
"Couple that with Hans' intolerable silence," Ine responded with a smile, "and perhaps our husbands will balance each other out. I'll see myself to the table." She got up from the chair and bustled over to the scrubbed wooden table.
Excerpted from Insight by Terron James. Copyright © 2013 Jolly Fish Press, LLC. Excerpted by permission of Jolly Fish Press.
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
INSIGHT, Terron’s James’ first story in his young adult “Beholders” fantasy series, gripped my interest from the first page. His fantastical world of Appernysia (complete with detailed maps and a glossary of terms), and the main character's dilemmas, was like a cross between Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and the BBC’s miniseries, Merlin, both of which I love. Though the first third of the book flowed at a leisurely pace, taking time to introduce the reader to the main character, Lon, and his background and trials, it really picked up in the second portion of the story, making INSIGHT a page-turner. I itched to learn what would happen next in Lon’s quest to control his new-found powers in perceiving and utilizing the invisible essences of nature. As he’s drawn into enemy territory and forced to become one of them, Lon is torn and confused over who he is and who he needs to become in order to save his life and the lives of those he loves. James' descriptions of settings, weapons and events are fascinating, allowing the reader to really picture the scenes in great detail, but that in no way slow the story. Of course, I was completely hooked by the end of the book and eagerly looking forward to the next installments in the “Beholders” series, especially with James leaving the reader with a hint of events that will unfold in the next books. Well done, Terron James!
This is very high quality epic fantasy.
This is a really interesting book. It does well at keeping the attention of the reader. I really enjoyed the characters. Terron does a great job at crafting his characters in a way that appeals to the reader. It makes us want to keep going to try and find out what will happen to them. We invest in them- not all books today get you to invest in the characters. Terron also does a great job at character development and character arcs. The characters are the soul of any story and he makes sure that his story has a brilliant one! I love the overall story itself. It's very unique and it's a great read. It does leave you wanting more though- and since book 2 is not out, you'll be wanting until it comes out! A plus and a minus. Plus because the book was that good, minus because you have to wait now. I had read some reviews about a guy being on the cover, but there wasn't one on mine. It does leave me a bit curious as to what the cover looked like before I got my ARC. ;) This is a great book and I recommend it for those that love a good action-adventure book with well written characters, that will leave you wanting more.
This book . . . this book has left me speechless. I love it! Simply put, I LOVE it! Insight is truly insightful. Terron is able to bring these characters to life, he brings out things, details I would have never imagined before. The relationships in the story are touching, amazing, completely believable. I kept thinking that I would stop and go do some other things before reading more but each time I ended one chapter the next just called and forced me to read the whole book in one sitting. Insight if full of adventure and oh my goodness the feels! There are so many of them. Terron has written a masterpiece and I can only say that I am dying to read more!!!
What if you had a powerful gift that was slowly killing you? What if at the moment you needed it most, it knocked you out cold? What if soldiers were hunting people with this gift and the only way to protect your family and everything you loved was to leave it behind? Insight, book 1 of the Beholders, by Terron James is a sword and shield fantasy set in Appernysia. Seventeen year old Lon has the gift of True Sight, which in a trained Beholder’s hands allows a person to see the world’s energy and manipulate it. But Lon has never met another Beholder and doesn’t have a clue about how to use his gift. Just having it paints a target on his back for the Rayders, an invading army scouring the countryside for a True Sight Beholder. Lon soon realizes that for everyone’s sake, he has to leave his family to search for answers. It’s a journey that leads him to some remarkable revelations as he learns how harness and control his True Sight. If it doesn’t kill him first. Insight is an adventure quest full of battles, inner conflict, and humor. While this is mainly Lon’s story, I suspect Lon isn’t the only Beholder in the family. Guess I’ll have to wait until book two to find out.
I had already read this book in its first printing and enjoyed it then. I think it has improved a lot since the first version. Some of the extra fluff and unnecessary stuff was removed or condensed. (And I loved the prologue in this version) Things I liked about this book. Lon Marcs actually goes and does something about his problem. The battle and fight scenes were very engaging and kept my attention throughout. I liked the characters and how they were developed for the most part. Some characters I even hated, but I believe I was supposed to and Terron did a great job on making me feel something for the characters. The world and the magic system were interesting and I liked how Lon had to work hard to figure out how to survive with this magic that was taking over his body. Some things I didn’t like. Though most of the characters were well developed and I got a pretty good feel for them, I thought they were lacking in emotion and a solid reason for them to do what they did. I didn’t see it enough. I’m not used to reading 3rd person stories where we get to see everything everyone else sees, I prefer the kind where I get really into a characters mind and emotions so I personally didn’t feel what I had hoped to from the characters. I also thought there were many times when things were skipped over for one character while we went to a different location and a different character. I wanted to see more of Lon’s trials and experiences in the Rayder lands instead of the stuff about his twin sister Mellai and his girlfriend/fiancé Kaylene. I’m sure they are important later on in the series, but I sort of found their little side stories kind of annoying at times since I missed out on stuff from Lon’s point of view. The only real fault I can find with this story is that Lon’s experience spans 7 months I believe in the story and I never really felt that his rise to power in the Rayder army was truly warranted. I didn’t see him really earn it since I think a lot of the time we went to the side characters stories and missed what he did to actually earn his place. I can believe his change of loyalty and the reason for him truly joining himself to the Rayders cause. I just don’t think it really would have happened that fast with the information I saw as a reader experiencing Lon’s actions. Other than that, it was a fun read. Not quick and easy by any means, but enjoyable still.
Oh ho! This book surprised me! Yes, the cover did throw me off. The guy on the cover is so depressed. But are we not told to NOT judge a book by its cover? Well I¿m so glad I didn¿t. Before I tell you why, I will say here that this cover actually is perfect after you follow Lon¿s tough journey. Author Terron James is planning on changing the cover but let me tell you the story inside is good enough no matter what the cover looks like. Insight is the story of a boy who becomes a man, gaining ¿insight¿ as he discovers everything he knew was wrong. It¿s a coming of age story set in a realistic world of warring nations, exiled people and years worth of false hatred. Appernysia could easily be any place on Earth, where people were raised up to believe the other people ¿over there¿ are bad and we¿re good. Lon grew up in a small community where everyone lived the lives they were expected and never stepped out of line or challenged their world. But what happens if the ¿bad guys¿ come to Lon¿s sleepy outskirt community ? What happens when Lon discovers that these Rayders seem to be just as human as anyone else? It doesn¿t help that Lon discovers the reason behind his headaches, the amazing untrained abilities he now has and the terrible dangers those abilities bring his loved ones. If unchecked, his new abilities could kill him. Revelation after revelation completely turn him upside down. He¿s forced to leave his loving parents, his hot-headed twin sister, his home and the love of his life. He must go to the one person who can help him, the scholar Omar, deep within the Rayder¿s world. How does his sharp tongued sister Mellai or his love Kaylen feel about this? What do they do and where do they go as a result? How does Lon fit into the harsh military world of the Rayders and how will he become the man he needs to be? Will he master his gifts or will they destroy him? Will he grow into an amazing leader or die by the sword and his pride? This book is filled with adventure, romance, shocks, humor, realism and fantasy. It even has a monster or two. I identified with Lon and Mellai. They were two of my favorite characters. I also enjoyed Omar and Tarek. There are also plenty of characters you¿ll love to hate like Braedr and Commander Rayben Goldhawk. All in all I really enjoyed this book. I recommend it to anyone. The chapters end in ways that you just have to turn the pages and devourer more. The story starts slow and continues to build until you just can¿t stop reading. The final last two chapters alone are so amazing when¿ wait. Go get a copy and find out for yourself. It¿ll be worth it!
This is an excellent, action packed fantasy adventure! I really enjoyed reading Insight. Just a warning - you will want to pick up the second book in the series right away! The story is full of interesting characters and fascinating details of the world it takes place in. The story is fairly well written. The narrative is relatively smooth, although sometimes the presentation of back story breaks up the flow a little. I purchased the e-book (Kindle version) and did not see any glaring formatting issues. Not sure I was thrilled about all the plot points - but as always, I will reserve my final judgement until I have read the entire series. Over all a great read and recommend to fantasy fans!
Terron James takes you to a new world, in a simpler time. He introduces you to a family with a unique problem. This is a wonderful fantasy novel, its not a dragon tale, or a tell of dwarfs or the like. It is a wonderful story I can't explain why without giving too much away, but I will tell you it is well worth the read! Great job mister James! I can't wait for True Sight!
Mr. James has an excellent ability to immerse the reader in a new world and introduce original ideas to the YA Fantasy genre. Each character has a unique voice and place in the story. The book is very effective at keeping the reader interested and curious about what is coming in the next chapter. Sometimes things aren't as simple as right vs. wrong or good vs. evil. I would strongly recommend this book to readers of any level and even those who are not regular readers of science fiction or fantasy novels.
Insight has it all. Action. Adventure. Romance. All packed into a brand-new world. I'm anxious to see how it all turns out, but I won't know the ending until Terron finishes the series. Sigh. Hurry up, Terron!
This is not your typical fantasy novel, no dragons, elves or dwarves. A completely new approach to fantasy novels. The characters are believable and become very real. I was hooked by the first chapter, and after the third chapter I couldn't get enough. I can hardly wait for the next book.