"Fifteen-year old Reigh, a human boy raised in an elven world, has never known what it feels like to belong. In his jungle home of Luntharda, the gray elf kingdom, he works with his adoptive father, Kiran, as a healer. But Reigh also carries a secret: there's a powerful force within him that he is unable not only to understand, but also to control. Kiran has always insisted that Reigh keep the news of this power to himself, but as Reigh gets older, it becomes harder to do so. Luntharda has known peace for decades thanks to the dragon-riding human hero Jaevid Broadfeather. Forty years ago, Jaevid ended the Gray War and brought amity to Luntharda and human Maldobar, but now enemies threaten the citizens of Maldobar with destruction. A failed effort to get assistance from the elven people and the failed attempt to resurrect Jaevid from his divine sleep have the fate of Maldobar looking grim. Will Reigh rein his power in in time to become the hero his world so desperately needs? Conway offers immersive worldbuilding, creating a familiar-feeling, mostly white high-fantasy setting that's balanced by Reigh's colloquial voice. The narrator's journey of self-discovery feels honest and compelling even in his moments of immaturity and recklessness, and relationships among the characters feel complex and real. A fantasy novel that will have readers wanting more by the time it ends, this is a worthy series opener." —Kirkus Reviews
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Savage begins the Dragonrider Legacy series, a thrilling companion to the international bestselling Dragonrider Chronicles.Never send a hero to do a monster’s job.Forty years have passed since Jaevid Broadfeather brought peace to Maldobar and Luntharda. But that fragile truce will be tested as darkness gathers on the horizon. The vicious armies of the Tibran Empire have crossed the far seas and are threatening to destroy Maldobar completely. Not even the dragonriders can match the Tibran war machines. And after an attempt to awaken Jaevid from his divine sleep fails, the fate of Maldobar is looking grim.Reigh has never known what it means to be a normal human. Raised amongst the gray elves in the wild jungle of Luntharda, he’s tried everything to fit in. But the dark power within him is bursting at the seams—refusing to be silenced. And while his adoptive father, Kiran, insists this power must be kept secret, Reigh knows he’s running out of time.As Maldobar burns, the world is desperate for a new hero. Destiny has called, and one boy will rise to answer.
Read an Excerpt
The jungle was quiet. Every fern frond, leaf, and flower petal dripped with cold dew. The first rays of morning sunlight bled through the canopy overhead, turning everything a surreal shade of green and sparkling through the clouds of mist that drifted between the tree trunks. The thick air smelled of rich, damp soil and the faintly sweet fragrance of the vividly colored flowers.
My bare feet squished on the damp moss as I crept along the tree limbs. I squeezed my bow tightly in my fist. My heartbeat throbbed in my ears and my palms were already slick with sweat. I clenched my teeth to stop them from chattering. Now was not the time to lose my nerve.
Out of nowhere, a brightly-colored parrot burst from the foliage and fluttered across my path. I slipped, losing my footing and rocking back on my heels as I flailed to get away. My stomach lurched. I opened my mouth to yell.
Someone grabbed my belt from behind.
Enyo dragged me down into a squat, hiding amidst the leaves. Together we watched the bird disappear into the distance while I struggled to catch my breath. So much for being stealthy.
Enyo's eyes sparkled like aquamarines in the dim light and the brightly painted beads woven into her dark hair clattered as she turned and shot me a hard look. I scowled back at her. It wasn't my fault. That stupid bird had come out of nowhere.
I wrenched out of her grip and slung my bow over my shoulder, crawling down a steep turn in the limb and leaping over into the next tree. That was how you moved in Luntharda — scurrying from tree to tree like a squirrel. The ground wasn't impassable, but it was extremely difficult terrain. Not to mention it was practically writhing with things that would have been happy to make breakfast out of a pair of novice scouts.
Technically, we weren't supposed to be this far away from the city without a senior scout to escort us. But today was different — today I had a mission. And it didn't include falling to my death from fifty feet in the air.
"This isn't going to work, you know," Enyo muttered as we scaled a network of thick vines that snaked up a tree trunk.
I ignored her, but couldn't outrun her. Even if I was taller, she was much faster. Together, we ran along the boughs, leaping, dodging, and climbing until I knew we had to be within earshot. I stopped first, and Enyo skidded to a halt beside me with a broad grin on her lips.
I glanced around for the perfect spot right above the narrow, well-beaten trail that zigzagged through the underbrush below. Faundra left those trails when they moved between their favorite grazing spots. My father had spent years teaching me how to track them, hunt them, and kill them. I could do this — by myself.
I smirked when I found it; the ideal spot where an overgrowth of giant lichen made a great place to hide and watch the trail below. I slipped my bow off my shoulder and took out an arrow, making sure to check the fletching and the shaft for damage before setting it in the string.
"Say you do actually kill one this time. Say we even manage to field dress it and get it back to the city. Do you really think Kiran is going to be okay with you running off without him?" Enyo whispered as she tucked herself into the lichen beside me. I could feel the heat off her skin when her arm brushed mine.
"Well obviously, if I did it without him, then I don't need him in the first place, right? I'm not a kid anymore," I growled under my breath. "He's holding me back on purpose."
Okay, so that was debatable. Gray elves went through puberty around fifteen. Their hair turned from black to as white as frost and their bodies matured to look more adult. After that, they were considered adults and could choose a profession, get married, and basically do whatever they wanted. I was sixteen. I should have been treated like an adult, too.
There was just one problem — I wasn't a gray elf.
To make matters worse, my adoptive father, Kiran, didn't want me trying to make my first kill yet. He didn't want me going anywhere without his permission. He still treated me like a little kid.
"Maybe because you never listen," Enyo muttered under her breath.
I narrowed my eyes at her. "Just shut up. Why did you even come?"
She glared back. "Well if you die, someone should at least be able to explain what happened."
"Pfft" I snorted and looked away. "Just keep out of my way."
Enyo pushed some of her long, coal-black hair behind one of her pointed ears. "And stay here — I know, I know."
A twig snapped.
We both fell silent. My heart raced, making my fingers throb and my body flush. This was it, the chance I'd been waiting for.
One-by-one they emerged from the morning mist. The herd of faundra traveled quickly with their littlest fawns grouped in the center to shield them from predators. The does were as big as horses, some even seven feet tall, with their white pelts flecked with soft gray markings. They had long, powerful legs and one kick to the face would crush your skull like an egg. But they weren't the ones you really had to watch out for.
The stags were even bigger. Their shaggy pelts had stark black swirls and a blaze right down the front of their snout. Their heads were crowned with sweeping white antlers with ten razor sharp points. You definitely did not want to be on the wrong end of those.
"Beautiful," Enyo whispered faintly.
Then I saw him — the alpha male. He stepped from the shadows, an impressive beast much larger than the other members of his herd by far. He had a single black stripe that ran from the end of his snout, down his back, and all the way to his tail. He was older, so his pelt was thicker around his neck like a mane, and all the other black marks along his hide had faded away. His horns sloped back to almost touch ends with four extra points on each side.
My stomach fluttered and swirled with excitement. I could barely breathe. When I drew my bow back, my hands shook. It made my arrow point bounce all over the place.
Enyo placed one of her palms on my back.
I closed my eyes for a moment and tried to remember everything Kiran had taught me. I took a deep breath. I listened to the jungle. Then, slowly, I opened my eyes again and took aim straight for the alpha male's heart. My hand was steady and my bowstring taut.
All I had to do was let go.
Something caught my eye. It was fast, like a flickering shadow darting through the underbrush.
I hesitated. My eyes searched, tracking through the underbrush for more movement. A snagwolf? Or maybe a wild shrike?
A sinking sensation rose in the pit of my stomach. It made all the tiny hairs on my arms and neck stand on end.
Oh no. Not this — not now.
Clenching my teeth, I tried to ignore it, to push it out of my mind, to fight it.
A cold chill hit me suddenly, making my body jerk beyond my control. The bowstring slipped, and my arrow went flying. It zipped through the moist air, grazing leaves and lodging deep into the side of a doe. She bucked and bleated, sending the rest of the herd into a frenzy. They bolted in every direction, disappearing like ghosts into the jungle.
But the doe I'd shot was badly wounded. She couldn't run far. Without thinking, I ran for the trunk of the tree and started my descent, jumping down from branch-to-branch.
"Reigh! Stop!" Enyo screamed.
No. There was no stopping now. When my feet finally struck the forest floor, I went to the spot where I'd shot her. There was blood on the ground and more droplets speckling the leaves and ferns, leading away into the undergrowth. She wouldn't last long. Running would make her bleed out faster.
Enyo seized my wrist suddenly. Her face was pale and her eyes as round as two moons. "We can't be down here. It's too dangerous." Her voice trembled.
"I can't just leave a kill lying out there. Stag or not it's still a —"
"Reigh! Don't be stupid. Something will have heard them," she pleaded and pulled on my arm. "Something will smell the blood!"
"Go back to the tree and wait for me, then." I snatched away from her and pointed. "I'm finishing this, with or without you."
Her expression faltered. She looked back at the tree, then to me, with her eyebrows crinkled and her mouth mashed into a desperate line.
"I said go!" I yelled.
Startled, Enyo backed away a few steps. She blinked at me, lips parted as she took in a few quick breaths. Then she turned and ran.
I tried not to think about all the rules I was breaking as I dove into the foliage, alone, to track down my kill.
Leaving the city without telling Kiran — that's one. Going into the jungle unsupervised was another. Taking Enyo with me was worth at least two more because we hadn't told her parents about it, either. And then there was the whole "hunting alone before I'd been officially marked a scout" thing. So yeah — basically, Kiran was going to be furious.
My only salvation was finding this doe. At least then, when I returned, he wouldn't be able to argue that I wasn't ready. The stag would have been much more impressive, but a kill was a kill. This was proof I could handle myself. I deserved to get my scout's mark.
The blood trail wasn't hard to find even among all the towering fronds and enormous leaves of the plants. I'd never stood on the jungle floor alone like this before. I felt insignificant, like a tiny insect, as I looked up at the giant trees. Everything seemed bigger now that I was this close to it. The air seemed cooler, too. The canopy was so far away, like a distant sky of endless green leaves. It gave me chills.
Or maybe that was just my problem acting up again.
I crept through the undergrowth, traveling fast and trying to stay out of sight as I followed the blood trail. The drops were getting bigger and closer together. She was slowing down. It wouldn't be long.
And then I saw her.
The doe was lying in the middle of a small clearing between two big ferns. She was motionless, but I could see her side rising and falling with the shaft of my arrow sticking straight out. She was still alive.
I quickly shouldered my bow and drew my hunting knife. As I got close to the edge of the clearing, I paused. I did a quick glance around, waiting to see if anything or anyone else was nearby. Enyo was right — the smell of blood might draw the attention of other predators.
Everything was quiet and still.
The doe bleated loudly when she saw me. Her legs kicked, eyes looking around with wild anxiety. Standing over her, I could feel my hand begin to shake again. I had to kill her, end her suffering — preferably before she gave away my position to every dangerous creature in a five-mile radius.
I put my knee over her snout to hold her head still. She was too weak from blood loss to fight me off. Her milky brown eyes stared straight ahead as I drew back, ready to plunge my dagger into her heart.
A deep, heavy snort broke the silence.
I froze, slowly raising my gaze just in time to see him stride free of the underbrush, his white horns gleaming in the morning light. The alpha male had come back for her.
Our eyes locked. His ears flicked back and he stamped a hoof. I tightened my grip on my knife, and tried to think of what to do — any fragment of a lesson Kiran had given that would help me right now.
There wasn't one.
The stag lowered his head, pointing those deadly horns straight at me, and charged.
I scrambled to my feet and ran for the nearest tree. His thundering hooves on the ground got closer and closer. I wasn't going to make it. I was fast, but he was faster.
The second before I could grab onto the lowest handhold, I heard a bowstring snap. The alpha bellowed. I dared to look back, just in time to see him fall and begin rolling. An arrow was sticking out of his haunches. He tumbled toward me, rolling like a giant furry boulder.
The massive stag smashed right into me.
The impact knocked the wind out of my lungs. Something popped and one of my arms went numb. Not good.
When everything stopped, I realized I couldn't move at all. Was I ... dead? Dying? No — I was pinned. Crushed between a tree and a very angry faundra stag, I couldn't escape. Something sharp, probably one of the stag's horns, sliced right across my face. Warm blood began running down my face.
"Reigh!" Enyo's voice was calling my name, but I couldn't see her.
The stag staggered back to his feet, shifting his weight off me. I sucked in a desperate, wheezing breath as I crumpled to the forest floor in a daze.
"Don't just sit there! Climb!" Enyo yelled again.
I looked up, my vision still spotting, to see the stag charging straight for her.
Even with the arrow sticking out of his flank, he galloped at full speed. She clumsily drew back another, eyes stuck on the shaggy monster thundering straight for her. Her whole body trembled with terror. She was hesitating, trying to decide if she should fire or flee.
She wasn't going to make it either way.
Something inside me burst, like the last raindrop before the dam broke.
I screamed her name at the top of my lungs. The chill came over me again, a coldness that rushed through every vein, making my body jerk and my eyes tear up. This time I didn't fight it. I clenched my fists and let it take me.
Time seemed to slow down and stop altogether. My pulse got slower. My skin went cold. I could see my own breaths turning to white fog in the air. Before me, darkness pooled, amassing into one dark, inky puddle on the ground. It rose like a flickering column of black flames, and took the form of him ... The black wolf I called Noh.
He looked at me with a smiling canine mouth and red, wavering bog fire eyes.
"Kill it," I commanded.
"With pleasure," his hissing voice replied.
I couldn't remember a time in my life when Noh hadn't been there. Ever since I was a little kid, he'd always been hiding in the back of my mind, like a memory from a former life that refused to fade. Almost as soon as I'd noticed his presence, Noh had absolutely terrified me.
Nothing about that had changed.
It wasn't that he'd ever tried to hurt me. Somehow, I didn't think he could even if he wanted to. But I could feel his presence just as clearly as I could sense his intentions — and they weren't good. He thrived on my anger, sadness, and confusion. Whenever Kiran and I had an argument, he would start creeping around the corners of the room, slipping soundlessly from shadow to shadow, almost like he was waiting for me to finally lose it.
I didn't know what he would do. Frankly, I didn't want to know. Kiran had warned me over and over that I had to keep myself under control, and make sure not to go too far. The repercussions could be severe. Noh might hurt someone, and it would be my fault. I was the only one who could see and hear Noh, and the only person he listened to. I could control him — for now. But who knew how long that would last. There was always a chance that one day, when I let him off the chain, I might not be able to get control of him again.
Then no one would be able to stop him from doing whatever he wanted.
The worst part was knowing that eventually it was going to happen. Somehow, someway, I was going to mess up. I always did. That's me — Reigh — Luntharda's number one screw up.
I couldn't move. Lying on my back with my arms and legs spread wide, my whole body was numb except for the cold pinpricks on my skin. The dull, constant sound of my heartbeat droned in my ears. Maybe that meant I wasn't dead.
Suddenly, there was a voice. Someone was shouting above me. "Reigh? Reigh!"
A strong hand smacked my face.
My eyes popped open. I bolted upright and choked, sucking in a deep breath.
"It's all right. Breathe. You'll be fine." Kiran knelt next to me, studying me with a concerned furrow in his brow.
"E-Enyo ..." I tried to speak, but I was barely able to catch my breath. My head wouldn't stop spinning.
"She's fine." Kiran put a hand on the back of my head and leaned in close, poking experimentally at the open wound on my face. Pain shot through my nose, making my eyes water.
"You'll need stitches," he decided aloud. "One of the stag's horns had blood on it. I feared the worst."
That's right. The stag had nicked me.
I looked past Kiran to the place where the doe should have been lying, but she was gone. There was no trace of her or the stag anywhere. Across the clearing, a few other gray elf scouts were checking Enyo. She was unconscious, but her cheeks were still flushed with color. She was alive.
Excerpted from "Savage"
Copyright © 2017 Nicole Conway.
Excerpted by permission of Month9Books.
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
My Thoughts - 5 out of 5 Unicorns - I loved it!!! ***I choose what I read and review based on what intrigues me!! Yes, I got a review copy of this book, but no one tells me what to think, feel, or write about any book! I loved this book, and I bought my own copy! I own the series before this book too! This is the first book in this new series that is a spin-off of the Dragonrider Chronicles! This is a YA book! Okay I loved this book because it went back to Nicole’s original style! It does end leaving you wanting more! I need the next book like NOW! This book is about Reigh who is a human teen who has always lived in a Grey Elf city. Kiran from the first series raised him. He doesn’t know who he is, or what the deal is with his power. There is so much action and mystery going on that you get pulled right into the story, and I found it hard to put the book down! I can’t wait for book 2, and to see how things go and what destiny has in store for Reigh!! I highly recommend to any Dragonrider fans who loved the first 3 books because you will enjoy this book! If you are new to Nicole’s work, I would read the first series, and then start this one afterward!